Undergraduates’ perceptions of conflict of interest in industry-sponsored research

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© 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD 21218. The prevalence of industry-sponsored research has led to significant concerns about financial conflicts of interest and the impact on research findings. This case study sought to examine how students considered conflict of interest when establishing the cognitive authority of a journal article. The case study used a mixed methods pretest and posttest to determine if instruction improved student ability to critically evaluate journal articles. A mixed methods approach investigated the terms undergraduates used to describe the attributes that contributed to the cognitive authority of research articles-that is, how reliable they found the source of the information. The case study showed that students attributed cognitive authority to authors affiliated with prestigious institutions and to articles from academic journals, with strong methodology and statistics. They expressed skepticism of articles that they felt had less methodological rigor and articles that deviated from their own view of the world.

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