The Trouble with Research (Part 2)

In a previous article about “The Trouble with Research’” I wrote about the infuence of industry groups who fund research in order to advance their viewpoint. Independent research is great, but when it’s funded by an industry group, the lines of independence become blurred. Researchers need funding, so when large contributors call, it’s hard to resist their interests.

Recently, one major research source has turned to more transparency in order to identify potential conflicts of interest. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has announced that it will include funding and conflict of interest statements for abstracts published on PubMet, its searchable site for scientific publications.

This change was encouraged by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI). They recognized that hundreds of millions of searches are conducted on PubMed by consumers looking for clarity in research. Knowing who is funding this research is key to understanding its probable outcome. CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson observed that “adding disclosures about researchers’ financial relationships with drug, food, chemical and other industries makes the PubMed research more useful than they are today”.

Based on research by independent nutritionist Marion Nestlie, of the 168 latest industry-sponsored research projects, 156 were found to favor the position supported by the study sponsor. That equated to a 94% favorable outcome to the industry sponsor, or only 6% disagreeing with the industry sponsor.

It you want to receive further industry grants, it’s not hard to determine how to state the results.

Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Marion Nestlie are beacons of independence in the research reference field. In this age of false news and alternative facts, it’s more important than ever to find sources of information that are not influenced by sources of funding.

Next time you find an article referencing research to support a position, scrutinize the report, the authors, and the funding source. Chances are you will learn more about the reasons for the outcome.

Ken Condliff is the founder and self-pro-claimed CNO (Chief Nutty Officer) of Nut-tritious Foods located in Vancouver, WA

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