Real and perceived conflicts of interest are a critically important topic in scholarly activities that I believe has not received enough attention from the scientific community. Right now, disclosures of possible conflicts of interest are handled incredibly very unevenly and poorly by academia and industry and government. Even when people do the right thing and make detailed disclosures, such information is hard to find and ephemeral. There are many things that the community could do to improve the ability to find such information.
One simple step that I believe could be useful would be to link disclosures to universal scholar ID systems. Although there are multiple UID systems for scholars, right now the UID of choice appears to be ORCID. ORCID currently allows scholars to compile information about their education, employment, funding and scholarly works.
I therefore propose that ORCID add a new category: DISCLOSURES. What would be included here? Well, I don’t know exactly but would include things like board membership, stock in companies, funding not listed elsewhere, any other significant relationship with a group, and more. Sure this could get messy. But I think we need to do more to make it easier to share and find information that could be a actual or potential conflict of interest.
Something like this:
If anyone knows of other tools for doing this I would love to hear about them.
Author: Jonathan Eisen
I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis
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