View Full Version : Academia and conflict of interest

Arne Lundberg
07-27-2000, 02:08 AM
In this case, Marco may be underestimating the efficiency of the Italian
mail service; I received the newsletter today.

I agree that these problems are important to discuss, and I find both
Kit's cases and Marco's comments very relevant. A couple of additional

Case 1: Perhaps Jennifer Jordan's mistake was registering at the wrong
university. I personally think that pressure should be applied to
institutions sticking to the principle that a thesis must contain only
previously unpublished material at the time of its presentation to
abandon this insistence that dumb luck has to be an important element in
thesis work. The function of a thesis must be to show the student's
ability to pusue original research, not his or her ability to foresee at
the start of the process what will still be original work four or five
years down the line. However, it is an important task for the supervisor
to make certain that there is no very similar publication in the market
when the study is started. In the case at hand I agree with Marco that
Jennifer and her supervisor should be able to state with a clear
conscience that there was no previous work that they could reasonably be
supposed to know of at that stage. Then, of course, we all have to live
with the fact that if someone alse beat us to the publication deadline,
it will influence where and how we can publish our material. Besides, I
have never come across a case of two identical studies so far...

Case 2: Agree with Marco

Case 3: I think the university should be proud to grant tenure to
someone who can produce so much good work with only a limited grant from
a shoe company. I do think that the reviewer should answer to her best
ability to any questions on funding ability (which I assume would be in
an assessment form).

Case 4: This is a tough one! Fortunately, as in case 1 the situation
does not arise often. In the event that Henk and his supervisor did not
know about the other group already, why not try posting a question to
Biomch-l as to whether anyone out there is working on this problem? It
should be possible to come to an agreement with that group, at least as
soon as they get acceptance. Another good idea is of course returning
the manuscript to Gait and Posture with enthusiastic comments (if
deserved) immediately to speed up the process, rather than sitting on it
a couple of months as many of us seem to do.

I will see if I can make a distinct synopsis of another interesting
ethical problem I came across recently.

Best wishes to all


Arne Lundberg, MD PhD
Dept of Orthopaedics
Karolinska Institute
Stockholm, Sweden

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