August 12, 2020

New Research: Commercial Payments Linked to Biased Articles in Medical Journals

From the University of Texas at Austin:

In a new article published by PLOS ONE, researchers reviewed 128,781 articles published in 159 different medical journals for markers of pro-industry bias, evaluating whether accepting advertising revenue, fulfilling reprint contracts or being owned by a large multinational publishing firm made a journal more likely to publish articles favorable to industry. They found that articles published in journals that accept reprint fees are nearly three times more likely to be written by authors who receive industry payments.

“I was honestly surprised by the findings here,” said S. Scott Graham, lead author of the study and assistant professor of rhetoric at UT Austin. “There’s a famous story about one company pulling a multimillion-dollar contract from the Annals of Internal Medicine because they didn’t like an article published in the journal. All the available literature suggests that ad revenue should be the real concern, but that’s not what we found.”

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The team found that articles published in journals that accept reprint fees are 2.81 times more likely to be written by authors who receive industry payments. They also found that accepted advertising revenue or being owned by a large publishing firm had no effect on the likelihood that any given article would represent a conflict of interest for the author.

The researchers also investigated whether there was any relationship between a journal’s commercial practices and the number of author conflicts per article, finding that articles published in journals that only accept reprint contracts had 1.52 more conflicts per article on average. And articles published in journals that only make advertising space available had 1.13 fewer conflicts per article on average.

The team also found that articles published in journals owned by large publishing companies had 3.2 more conflicts of interest on average. However, many of these journals also accepted advertising and reprint fees, the researchers said.

Read the Complete Article

Direct to Full Text Research Article Discussed in Story: “Relationships Among Commercial Practices And Author Conflicts Of Interest In Biomedical Publishing” (via PLOS One)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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