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General Introduction

This is an evolving bibliography of recent work on ethical issues raised by the industry sponsorship of scientific research, and partnerships between universities (and other public research institutions) and industry. In addition to items directly addressing or discussing these issues, I have also included items on closely related topics. The bibliography is organized by topic, and is loosely alphabetized, though I have eschewed alphabetization and grouped pieces together when it was best to discuss them as a group. Any questions or comments are welcome.

Industry Sponsored bibliography header

“Industry-Sponsored Research” refers to a number of different institutional arrangements between public research institutions, such as universities, and private companies, such as pharmaceutical corporations or food manufacturers.  As such, it encompasses not just direct financial subsidy of research by private companies, but also philanthropic partnerships, technology transfer (that is, patenting of results of researchers at public institutions and licensing of the patent to a private company), clinical testing of pharmaceutical products by public researchers on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, and the like.  Though interface between public research institutions and industry is not new, it is customary to date a number of changes to law and policy in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in the United States as the real beginning of the era of “commercialized” or “industry-sponsored” science (see Chs. 3-5 of the book by Krimsky in the “General Works” section for a historical overview.)  Industry-sponsored research raises a host of issues in bioethics, business ethics, and the ethics of science and engineering about the conduct and use of research, as well as a number of significant philosophical questions at the intersection of applied ethics, philosophy of science, and political philosophy about the nature, role, and obligations of the sciences.  As such, it is both a pressing practical problem, and a highly interesting and fruitful area for philosophical inquiry, that engages disciplines like philosophy, economics, public health, public policy, political science, and management theory, as well as different sub-disciplines of philosophy.

The purpose of this bibliography is to give those interested in industry-sponsored research a guide to the vast and rapidly expanding literature on this topic.  The bibliography is evolving; meaning, new items are added continuously, as well as new subject areas, and the whole is always subject to reorganization.  In the spirit of the article by Marks listed in the “General Works” section, the items are grouped together into broad families of “systemic problems”; that is, general ethical issues raised by industry-sponsored research (as opposed to specific problems that may arise from specific arrangements or types of arrangements,) bookended at the beginning and end by two sections of essential background reading.  Each bibliography entry is accompanied by a short summary and comment, and each section comes with a short introduction explaining the nature of that family of systemic problems.