When is it Unethical Not to Engage in Research?

by Anne Meade, MS, PMP, Senior Manager for Website and Social Media  

For its February Question of the Month, PRIM&R’s People & Perspectives  program wants to know why you think collaboration is important.

Need inspiration? One thing to consider is how you approach conflicts of interest at your organization. Can you consider these as opportunities for convergence, as opposed to simply conflicts of interest? Instead of seeing a conflict of interest as a means of discontinuing research, take it as an opportunity to collaborate to execute the research.

For more on this topic, watch the following People & Perspectives interview, in which Ann Bonham, PhD, chief scientific officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), discusses the value of true partnership between the major stakeholders in research.

Dr. Bonham emphasizes that acknowledging conflicts of interest is not merely “checking the box”—one also has to think about ways to move research forward if there is significant financial conflict of interest. It may not be ethical to form a partnership because of a conflict, but when is it unethical not to partner and move the research forward?

“Let’s elevate the discussion that finances [are] one part of it, but there are lots of other parts of it. It’s not asking, ‘This is not ethical so let’s not engage in research.’ Let’s ask ourselves how to put that into context, and also ask ourselves when would it be unethical for us not to engage in partnerships to do the research. And to me that’s the crux of the principled partnerships: thinking about the ethics of not doing it and the ethics of doing it.”

Watch the full video.

How do you handle opportunities for convergence of interests, and how are those opportunities important for collaboration? Respond to the Question of the Month on the People & Perspectives website, or share a comment below.