Corporate power and academic freedom

Andrew G. Bonnell
University of Queensland
Resource type:

This article explores potential conflict of interest that may arise when the private sector funds university research. Providing specific examples from universities in Europe, the US and Australia, the author shows that reduced public funding for research has led universities and research groups to increasingly turn to the private sector for much needed resources. Unfortunately, that funding can often come with strings attached, and studies show that businesses have become increasingly involved at each stage of research, including whether results are published. A few common tactics for influencing research to better serve company interests include ghost writing papers for academics and providing funding through the philanthropic arms of large corporations. The article gives examples from the pharmaceutical and beverage industries, but has important implications for all kinds of research, including research focused on nutrition, health and sustainability. With increased reliance on private sector to conduct much needed research, the author calls for clearer protocols to ensure the integrity of research and academic freedom. 

This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed