Conflicts of Interest, Community-based Research, and Trustworthy Science Communication

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2014-01-01
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Almassi, Ben
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Iowa State University Summer Symposium on Science Communication
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Science Communication Project @ISU was founded in 2010 with the goal of enhancing collaborative research on, education for, and the practice of public science communication, broadly conceived. Our biennial symposia- which include public presentations of multidisciplinary research and interactive workshops- bring together a network of scholars who share interests in public engagement of science, environmental communication, natural resource management, and agriscience. Conference proceedings showcase research, evaluations, and critiques of science communication-related practices and phenomena.

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Disclosure of authorial conflicts of interest have become a cornerstone of scientific publication, championed as a sensible middle ground between extremes of categorical prohibition of for-profit research or acceptance of findings regardless of origins. Elliott argues that while some interests may be biasing, others are not; so we must assess how interests affect research credibility, and Elliott proposes criteria to refine disclosure policies. Here I evaluate Elliott’s proposed criteria as they apply to community-based research, drawing on the United Church of Christ’s study on toxic waste and race as a paradigm case of interested yet trustworthy research.

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