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[Commlist] cfp: Money talks? - The impact of corporate funding on academic research in information law and policy
Wed Jun 26 11:03:57 GMT 2019
UPDATE & EXTENDED DEADLINE:
Money talks? - The impact of corporate funding on academic research in
information law and policy
October 23, 2019, Amsterdam
We have a number of announcements to make!
First, we are happy to have Sandra Braman (Texas A&M University) as the
keynote speaker for the conference!
Second, we received an offer by a top tier academic press to publish
quality conference papers, so we hope to have a lasting impact!
Third, we decided to extend the deadline till the 7^th of July, so more
people have the chance to participate!
Fourth, we would like to widen the scope of the discussion by accepting
contributions in the form of code of best practices, blog posts,
newspaper articles, etc. And last but not least,
we can confirm the members of the program committee (see below).
Call text and additional information:
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 research, health  and nutrition  science
have been struggling with controversies  and dilemmas around the
direct and indirect impact of corporate funding  on the 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 (CA)  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 , which at the same time was fighting Google in Court, and
perceived CA as part of that effort.
In September 2018 a wide group of academics raised concerns  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
. 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  and governments have been
developing  policies  and guidelines  to 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 , for instance, is built around four principles:
reliability, honesty, respect and accountability.
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
● 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 for improvement?
● 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 private parties?
● 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
● Are there neglected research topics because they do not
attract corporate funding?
● 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, such as code of conducts,
blog posts, best practices, etc.
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 7st, 2019. Acceptance decisions
will be communicated in about a month.
The event is organized by the Institute for Information Law, University
of Amsterdam, as part of the European Hub of the Global Network of
Centers for Internet and Society (NoC).
Program Committee: Dr. Balazs Bodo, Prof. Dr. Mireille van Eechoud, Prof
Dr. Nico Van Eijk, Sarah Eskens, Prof. Dr. Natali Helberger, Prof. Dr.
Joris van Hoboken, Prof. Dr. Bernt Hugenholtz
 Farrell, Justin. “Corporate Funding and Ideological Polarization
about Climate Change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
November 19, 2015, 201509433. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1509433112.
 Besley, John C., Aaron M. McCright, Nagwan R. Zahry, Kevin C.
Elliott, Norbert E. Kaminski, and Joseph D. Martin. “Perceived Conflict
of Interest in Health Science Partnerships.” PLOS ONE 12, no. 4 (April
20, 2017): e0175643. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175643.
 Aveyard, Paul, Derek Yach, Anna B. Gilmore, and Simon Capewell.
“Should We Welcome Food Industry Funding of Public Health Research?” BMJ
353 (April 20, 2016): i2161. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2161.
 Krimsky, Sheldon. “Do Financial Conflicts of Interest Bias
Research?: An Inquiry into the ‘Funding Effect’ Hypothesis.” Science,
Technology, & Human Values, September 20, 2012.
 Holloway, Kelly Joslin. “Normalizing Complaint: Scientists and the
Challenge of Commercialization.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 40,
no. 5 (September 1, 2015): 744–65. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243915576004.
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