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[Commlist] cfp: Money talks? The impact of corporate funding on academic research in information law and policy
Mon May 20 14:00:15 GMT 2019
*Call for papers, workshops, roundtables, action on - *
*Money talks? The impact of corporate funding on academic research in
information law and policy*
/An event by the European Hub of the Global Network of Centers for
Internet and Society (NoC), organized by the Institute for Information
Law, University of Amsterdam/
*October 23, Wednesday 2019, Amsterdam*
Concerns about the corporate funding of scientific research, and about
the presence of corporate sponsors in scientific events are not an
exceptional issue in the academic field. For decades, scientific domains
like medicine, climate
nutrition <https://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2161>science have been
struggling with controversies
dilemmas around the direct and indirect impact of corporate funding
quality of their scholarship, integrity, independence, both actual, and
as perceived by others.
Research in the domain of the information society is not immune to these
controversies. For example, the emerging giants of the information
society are active research funders, and promote academic research as a
way to influence public policy, or at least are perceived to do so. The
information industry is also increasingly in exclusive control of
fundamental research resources, such as data, or technology design. The
2017 Campaign for Accountability
controversy perfectly captures the complexity of the situation this
creates around science. CA was apparently set out to identify Google’s
influence on information policy research and (controversially)
identified 329 research papers on public policy matters that were
directly or indirectly funded by the search company. Only later it
turned out that one of the funders of CA was Oracle
<http://fortune.com/2016/08/19/google-transparency-project-2/>, which at
the same time was fighting Google in Court, and perceived CA as part of
In September 2018 a wide group of academics raised concerns
<https://fundingmatters.tech/>about the role of surveillance technology
company Palantir as sponsor of academic events on data privacy. The
subsequent debate raised important questions about the dimensions in
which different corporations active in the online world should be
critically assessed, and the terms on which science can engage with them.
The growing concerns about the influence of corporate funding of
academic research in all disciplines can be attributed to the effects of
several connected factors. For a number of financial, political and
social reasons there is a significant pressure on academics to be
entrepreneurial, and attract and pursue funding from private sources
<https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243915576004>. Large corporations have been
responding to this situation with often substantial amounts of funding,
and various forms of collaborations.
On the other hand, access to private funders and corporate sponsors may
carry benefits: corporate participation is a prerequisite of a
substantive and inclusive dialogue on contentious issues and policy
developments. It can also foster collaborations, and provide scientists
access to information, data, people, which would otherwise remain beyond
reach. However, the intentions of corporations to invest in academic
research are not always transparent. Some consider it to be relatively
harmless when corporate sponsorship is motivated by the desire to
associate their brand with academia, or to contribute to society to
boost the public company image. Others claim that corporations may
decide to fund research with malevolent intentions in order to influence
the public debate, or pursue some hidden agenda. It often remains
unclear for the public what motivates a company to fund academic
research. Corporate sponsorship may be seen as suspicious, and
detrimental to the results of the scientific outcomes, even if it was
done with the right motivation, an ultimately it may also have an impact
on the public trust in science.
In order to prevent a conflict of interest and to ensure objectivity and
transparency in research, institutions
governments have been developing
foster integrity. The resulting codes of conducts are based on several
widely supported fundamental principles which are translated into more
specific standards for good research practices. The European Code of
Conduct for Research Integrity <http://goo.gl/WRuVz>, for instance, is
built around four principles: reliability, honesty, respect and
Yet, it remains to be seen how effectively such international
European, national, and domain specific codes of conducts can be
monitored, and enforced, and how effective they can be in safeguarding
both the integrity of research, and it’s public perception.
Recent events and the call for an action-oriented discussion on
corporate sponsorship therefore warrant the /impact of corporate funding
on academic research/ as the theme for the next meeting for the European
Hub of the Global Network of Centers for Internet and Society (NoC). The
conference strives to bring together scholars within the information law
discipline, as well as related fields to discuss questions such as:
*Understanding the problem: the scope, structure, amount, topics and
beneficiaries of corporate funding in research*
●How big corporate influence is in the first place? How much money are
we talking about?
●What are the forms of (corporate) research funding, such as financial
support, funded positions, data access, etc.?
●What drives corporate funding decisions?
*Internal safeguards of research independence and integrity*
●What are the best ways to safeguard research independence and integrity?
●Are the current principles and safeguards that guide engagement with
corporate sponsors and funders adequate?
●What are the limitations of current integrity safeguards? Is there room
●Are there specific/additional principles that should to inform such
engagement in the area of information law and policy?
●Does it make sense to differentiate between different forms of
sponsoring (institutional/project, in-kind/access/money)?
*Interfaces and firewalls between academia and industry *
●What kind of integrity-infrastructure does academia need for the future
where more and more essential resources are going to be in the exclusive
control of corporations?
●What legal and policy innovations are needed to ensure due access to
privately held or controller data sources?
●How could standards be set for the acceptance of corporate funding?
What are the existing methods of standard setting?
●What is a proper way to signal the company support without creating the
impression of industry research?
*The impact of corporate funding *
●How to manage public trust in academia which is increasingly funded by
●What are the effects of increased acceptance of private funding of
academic research on government spending on science?
●Are some geographies, institutions, and initiatives more dependent on,
or more exposed to corporate funding? How to address these differences?
●Are there neglected research topics because they do not attract
●How to deal with public funding from authoritarian regimes?
We welcome individual paper proposals and panel and workshop proposals,
and other forms of interventions and actions.
Please submit paper abstracts, and panel proposals of no more than a
1000 words to the following email address: (money.talks /at/ ivir.nl)
<mailto:(money.talks /at/ ivir.nl)>by *July 1^st , 2019.* Acceptance decisions
will be communicated in about a month.
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