On Instagram @AndreaHardyRD, I talk all about how important it is to not judge a study solely on its funding.

  • Image of @andreahardyrd Instagram post about research funding

Research funding is a complex topic. I’m addressing it from the angle of: should we outright dismiss it? (Something I see frequently when discussing academic papers in dietetics) #scicommunity⁠⠀
Things we think of when we think ‘industry funded research’:⁠⠀
❓Where did the $$ come from? ⁠⠀
❔How significant of a financial stake does the funder have?⁠⠀
❓What is the agenda? ⁠⠀
❔Is the organization trying to drive policy? ⁠⠀
❓Is there the potential that they, as a privately funded research body, only published positive trial data? ⁠⠀
❔Did they manipulate the results, graphs, charts, discussion section, to spin the results in a certain light?⁠⠀
Sure – it absolutely happens, and its an issue we need to be aware and critical of. There is a LONG history of industry funding research to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive outcomes. It’s seriously problematic.⁠⠀
But – as industry funded research grows, I also see the move towards transparency, especially in highly regulated industries where there is RISK associated with a product.⁠⠀
JUST because a project is funded by a particular organization doesn’t necessarily mean we should jump to dismiss the science – rather – get REALLY critical about it.⁠⠀
Some things to consider:⁠⠀
✔️Were all conflict of interests clearly stated?⁠⠀
✔️Was the study designed well?⁠⠀
✔️Was it powered to get statistically significant results?⁠⠀
✔️How was the data analyzed? If were analyzed a different way, would it have possibly provided different outcomes?⁠⠀
✔️Could you have access to the raw data should you want to run the results over again?⁠⠀
✔️Are there mechanisms in place to limit bias (ie a 3rd party research group? A commitment to publish regardless of data outcomes?)⁠⠀
✔️How do we ‘weigh’ this evidence knowing its possible to have bias?⁠⠀
This is a really complex topic with many issues, I’ve cited an article I found helpful to look at how nuanced this is!⁠⠀
(doi: 10.1080/08989621.2013.788383)