Conflicts of Interest In Science

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

I wasn’t a fan of this, but really, it’s my own fault. 

When I read the description, I missed the fact that it’s 30 peer-reviewed studies aggregated into one text. And that’s how it reads. it’s filled with facts, numbers, stats, and terminology that are for people much smarter than myself.

While I believe that people who are interested in this subject on a more specific scientific level would have no issues reading and enjoying this, those like me looking for something more accessible, focusing on the morality of issue, won’t find what they’re looking for here.
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This collection of essays published over nearly 30 years makes for some interesting reading, but I would have been much more interested in an actual look at the topic and its history, a cohesive book.  In the forward, Krimsky labels three eras of COI in science, early middle and late, from about 1980 to the present day, and the essays are arranged in more or less chronological order (although the dates and details of publication are not printed at the beginning of each chapter, which is a little frustrating).  But because they were not woven into a cohesive whole, there's a lot of repetition here.  Define conflict of interest, define bias, reference the Founding Fathers, do a little historical review each time.  Look at conflicts of interest for the DSM 4 authors, oh, now the DSM 5 is coming out, do them too.  Let's do a run down of the tobacco industry research case study again.  The first time through, that's interesting.  Later on, I was flipping pages pretty quickly.

There's a focus on biotech and pharmaceutical companies funding research at universities throughout the book, although there is a section on weapons research.  The essay on Science in the Sunshine was most interesting to me, since I only vaguely recall the historical details from when they happened (circa 2010).  

So I'm glad I read this.  It could just be way better and more interesting with some more work.  But it's a collection of essays, and it's pretty good for that.  I just didn't realize that's what it was going in (my fault).

I got a copy to review from Net Galley.
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Tedious collection of articles previously published by the author

This book is an anthology of previously published articles by the author Sheldon Krimsky, frequently as the sole author. Many stories are out of date, dating back to 1984. These articles are written in scholarly tone and many reflect sociological studies done by Krimsky. There is a lot of overlap between the articles and I found myself just flipping pages until the conclusions of the articles which were usually interesting and well written. Also interesting were Krimsky’s ideas of how to fight financial conflicts of interest, but most of the articles were about conflicts of interest involving the pharmaceutical industry, so this wasn’t a good look at conflicts in science overall. The anthology was just interesting enough to keep going, as I was tempted several times to stop reading because of the huge overlap between articles. Ironically, although Krimsky rails against bias, I think that using only articles authored by Krimsky himself introduces a huge bias. I read Corrupted Science by John Grant  and found this book by far more enjoyable than Krimsky’s.
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This is a dreadfully bad book. It is poorly written and is boring. For example, the introduction is a hodgepodge of ideas with no form or flow whatsoever. The author needs to learn about paragraphing and segues. Each chapter is an article from the author's academic career which are of little or no interest to the ordinary reader.
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As someone who has written about research ethics and sits on an Institutional Review Board myself, I was very interested to see what Sheldon Krimsky had to say on the issue of conflicts of interest in science. Anyone who has any kind of background in research ethics knows that conflicts of interest are a huge problem in research (especially in the biomedical fields). 

As a whole, this book didn't really provide me with any new information, but I definitely think it would be a worthwhile book for those who are interested in academic research, public health, and science. The book is written for a lay audience, so I think people in the general public will find this book interesting and somewhat alarming.
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Conflicts of Interest In Science is literally just twenty-one published peer-reviewed studies in book form. As such, it reads just like peer-reviewed journals and adds no context, case studies or other insights. [I got this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion]
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Great resource! The author has put a lot of useful information, this is such a helpful book. Would recommend!
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