We are inviting all research staff (Postdocs, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Readers or Professors) and PhD students to contribute to a study to pilot-test and assess a training intervention on improving research integrity by increasing understanding of conflicts of interest and the ways by which research partners can exercise undue influence on science .

REGISTRATION CLOSES: wednesday, 6th September 2023

The researchers involved in this study are Dr Alice Fabbri, Dr Iona Fitzpatrick, and Professor Anna B Gilmore all from the University of Bath.

Corporate funding of research has helped advance many branches of science, however evidence across several fields has shown the emergent conflicts of interests can have a significant impact on the evidence base. Conflicts of interest not only threaten the integrity of research, but can also pose risks to academic institutions and researchers. One of the solutions proposed in the literature is to train researchers and other University staff so that they are better equipped to make informed decisions when considering partnerships with and funding from corporations and better able to put mitigating measures in place. To date there is no such training at the University of Bath. We therefore propose to develop and pilot training on conflicts of interest and corporate influence on science at the University of Bath. The training aims to increase participants’ understanding of relevant issues involved and familiarise them with practical tools they can use to conduct a risk/benefit analysis when considering engagement with corporations.

The training will be held on 20 September 2023 from 10.00 to 12.30 according to the draft programme below.

Part Topic Time (minutes)
1: The evidence Conflicts of interest (definitions, how they arise) 40
Ways in which financial conflicts of interest such as commercial sponsorship of research can influence evidence production, dissemination, and use (examples from different industry sectors will be provided).
Implications and risks for research integrity, researchers, and academic institutions
Q&A 20
Break 10
2: Interactive session Exercise/analysis of a case study in breakout rooms 30
3: The solutions Solutions to prevent/manage conflicts of interest (e.g., conflict of interest policies, disclosure) 30
Overview of practical tools that researchers can use to conduct a risk/benefit analysis when considering research collaborations
Tools/procedures to prevent/manage conflicts of interest available at the University of Bath
Q&A 20

We would be delighted if you joined the study as a participant. Your involvement is likely to be at three time points:

1) Before the training you will be asked to fill in a brief online survey that should take between 10 and 15 minutes. The survey will allow us to understand participants’ attitudes and perceptions as well as previous experiences.

2) Attend the 2.5 hour online training session.

3) Fill in a brief online survey at the end of the course and 3 months after the course. The survey should take between 10 and 15 minutes.

If you are a PhD student, postdoc or any other kind of research staff please register your interest via the link below. We will be in touch with further information in the next weeks.

Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health Ref: 22-092