Independence of Research and Conflicts of Interest Policies

Independence of Research and Conflicts of Interest Policies

Policy Regarding Independence of Research

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is committed to the highest standards of academic quality and credibility for our research procedures and products.  We ensure these through rigorous internal review, peer review, and a transparent process for selecting and undertaking research projects.

While the credibility of the research any organization produces should stand on the quality and reliability of that research alone, more is often necessary. Mercatus strictly adheres to the following policies:

1. The Mercatus Center engages in research and educational activities that advance the mission of the organization.  This includes research and educational activities that may run counter to the interests of organizations and individuals that provide financial support to Mercatus.

2. Mercatus accepts financial support from numerous sources for research and educational activities that support its mission, endeavoring to maintain a broad and diverse base of support.  All Mercatus work product has to be capable of withstanding rigorous peer review of its quality and reliability.  Therefore Mercatus financial supporters have absolutely no influence or control over the research design, methodology, analysis, or findings of Mercatus research projects, nor do they have influence or control over the content of educational programs.  Offers of financial support predicated on such expectations are not accepted.

3. Mercatus will not engage in research or educational activities that are co-sponsored with non-academic organizations that support Mercatus financially. 

4. The following paragraph will be furnished to all organizations that provide or are considering providing Mercatus with financial support, to ensure that supporters understand our commitment to independent research:

The Mercatus Center is committed to the highest standards of academic quality and credibility, and to ensuring that our work stands up to rigorous peer review.  Mercatus scholars independently pursue a research agenda and educational activities that advance our mission.  Mercatus does not engage in research or educational activities directed or influenced in any way by financial supporters. To view our full policy regarding independent research, visit our Policy Regarding Independence of Research Page on our Web site at http://mercatus.org/content/policy-regarding-independence-research.

5. This policy and Mercatus practices will be reviewed annually to ensure that Mercatus is in compliance with its provisions and faithful to its intent.

Conflict of Interest Policy Statement 

Purpose
 

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and as a university-based research center, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University (“the Mercatus Center”) publishes research which meets rigorous standards of scholarship and seeks to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest.

This statement provides guidelines and procedures for the identification and resolution of real, potential, or apparent financial conflicts of interest that may arise in the course of Mercatus Center-supported research.

Definitions 

  1. Affected Persons
    An “affected person” is any author or researcher supported by the Mercatus Center who has a financial interest in the research in question, as defined below.

  2. Financial Interest
    An affected person has a “financial interest” if the individual has, directly or indirectly, any ownership, investment, or compensation arrangement such that he or she stands to benefit financially from the impact of the research in question.

  3. Conflict of Interest
    The term “conflict of interest” means any financial interest that could significantly impair the affected person’s objectivity and/or undermine the academic integrity of the research in question. For a conflict of interest to exist, there must be a financial interest that may bias or appear to bias the affected person’s research, as for instance might result from a consulting engagement on related topics, although this policy is not restricted to that particular instantiation of a conflict of interest.

Procedures

  1. Duty to disclose
    In connection with any actual or possible conflict of interest, an affected person must disclose the existence of the financial interest prior to initiating the research in question, and at the earliest opportunity if the conflict was not known before initiating the research. The affected person must disclose all material facts to the relevant Program Director or Manager, or to the Director of Policy Research Operations, or to the Executive Director of the Mercatus Center.

  2. Determining whether a conflict of interest exists
    The Director of Policy Research Operations, or a designee of the Executive Director, shall review any disclosures regarding the financial interest of any affected persons who suspect they might have a conflict of interest while working with the Mercatus Center.

  3. Procedures for addressing the conflict of interest
    After exercising due diligence, the Director of Policy Research Operations, or a designee of the Executive Director, shall determine whether a conflict of interest exists, consulting with the Executive Director when appropriate. If one is found to exist, the Mercatus Center will not pursue the research in question with the affected person. This decision may be made even if there is a strong appearance of a conflict of interest but no actual conflict.  If no conflict or relevant appearance of conflict is found, the Mercatus Center will memorialize the decision, and the research in question may proceed accordingly or with appropriate modified terms as agreed to by the affected person.

  4. Corrective action
    If the Director of Policy Research Operations or the Executive Director has reason to believe an individual failed to disclose an actual or potential conflict of interest, the Mercatus Center will seek corrective action. If a determination has been made that the individual did not disclose a possible conflict of interest before initiating the research in question, the Mercatus Center may at its sole discretion terminate the project and sever professional ties with the affected person.

  5. Publication outlets
    The Mercatus Center requires that all of its affiliated scholars adhere to the conflict of interest policies of the journals and outlets in which they publish, in addition to the Mercatus Center’s own requirements.
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