Is There Social Consensus Regarding Researcher Conflicts of Interest?

Zeynep G. Aytug, Hannah R. Rothstein, Mary C. Kern, Zhu Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Consensus around what constitutes researcher conflicts of interest (COIs) and awareness of their influence on our research are two critical steps in ensuring the integrity of our science. In this research, data were collected from individual scholars via 2 surveys 5 years apart and from journals and associations to examine the level of social consensus and moral awareness among scholars, journals, and associations regarding researcher COIs. Although we observed increases in level of social consensus and moral awareness between 2012 and 2017, results still revealed limited agreement about what relationships constitute a COI and limited awareness about the presence of and the ethical issues surrounding COIs. Although all journals and associations we examined supported COI disclosure, most did not provide researchers with detailed COI-related information, guidance, or disclosure tools. Limited social consensus and moral awareness regarding COIs is problematic because it inhibits the recognition, disclosure, and management of COIs and limits ethical decision making. We need to continue and enhance discussions about COIs and aim to create consensus and awareness where we do not have it with the goal of reducing potential scientific misconduct related to COIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-140
Number of pages40
JournalEthics and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2019


  • conflict of interest
  • ethical decision making
  • moral awareness
  • research ethics
  • social consensus


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