Debate in US over researchers’ disclosure of funding sources

June 12, 2014

The case of 2 US academics who failed to disclose that their work was funded by the private prison industry has raised questions over the ethics of research partnerships in non-scientific fields. Temple University has launched an ethics investigation into the work of 2 of its faculty who argued in support of private prisons. The professors, Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone, claim that they disclosed some details about their funding and that further information was available on request; they also note that the work in question involved working papers rather than final articles. However, critics say that the researchers, who published pro-private-prison op-eds, should have been more forthcoming about their funding. Hakim said that he “believes [they] did” submit funding information to the newspapers that published the op-eds, but added that “it’s not that important.” Cary Nelson, author of a set of guidelines for academy–industry collaboration, countered that it is “critical” to acknowledge funding in working papers and op-eds, which can circulate widely and “shape legislation, public opinion, and political debate.” Inside Higher Ed | Philadelphia Inquirer