From protocol to guideline: The strategic use of scientific publications in clinical diabetes research

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Hardeman, Sjoerd
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Numerous scholars have expressed concerns over the growing role of commercial interests in the academic domain (e.g. Nelson 2004). Notwithstanding the economic importance of bringing scientific knowledge to the market place, the role of industry in conducting academic research has been associated with practices that undermine prevailing norms of scientific conduct such as data-withholding practices (Cohen and Walsh 2008) and the creation of impediments to follow-up research through patenting (Murray and Stern 2007). The clinical sciences are a prime example in this context, where large pharmaceutical firms play a key role in research and development. These firms fund an increasing part of medical research at universities and hospitals, while they also increasingly outsource the operational aspects of clinical trials to private partners instead of academic ones. At the same time, scientific legitimation of clinical research outcomes in publications and ultimately in clinical guidelines has become ever more important. With the rise of an evidence based medicine paradigm (Timmermans and Berg 2003) - which attempts to directly ground medical decisions in scientific evidence - publishing even seems to have become a sine qua non for clinical success. Hence, publications are increasingly perceived as strategic tools that need to be carefully constructed and mobilized to maximize success towards medical practice. This paper addresses the strategic use of scientific publications in clinical research, taking diabetes mellitus research as an example. We study the determinants of research becoming published in scientific journals (either with positive or negative results) and of publications subsequently becoming included in clinical guidelines (as either a positive or negative guidance). We are particularly interested in whether providing authorships in industry-funded research to central academic actors (i.e. key opinion leaders) first increases the likelihood of publication and second increases the likelihood of these publications to be included in a clinical practice guideline subsequently.
NWO (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)
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