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Economists Adopt Conflict-of-Interest Guidelines

How can research be kept free of conflicts of interests? The American Economic Association has formulated specific guidelines for this: good progress and a good reference text, but applying only to articles published in AEA journals. How can this be generalized to the world of scholars?

Information submitted by Cécile Sabourin.


Photo by Cindy Seigle


The American Economic Association (AEA) responded to criticism that some economists were too close to businesses or the government by issuing a new set of guidelines in early January 2012 at its annual meeting in Chicago, aiming to get scholars to disclose the supporters of their research when they publish in AEA journals. The new guidelines were approved at an executive committee meeting. “Every submitted article should state the sources of financial support for the particular research it describes. If none, that fact should be stated,” says one of the new principles. Another principle asks authors to “identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, in the form of consultant fees, retainers, grants and the like.” The disclosure requirement also includes in-kind support, such as “providing access to data.” The additions come after years of introspection by economists, following the financial meltdown of 2008.

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Published on: 11 April 2012
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