STATS at George Mason University how to evaluate health risks
7. Follow the money

When deciding whether research warrants a change, keep in mind whether it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, as well as who funded it, and what their larger agenda may be.



The source of a researcher’s funding can affect the outcomes of the research, according to several studies, with industry-funded research more likely to show the benefits of its products.

Research conducted by advocacy groups is also more likely to support the conclusions of the advocates. Peer review can mitigate, but may not entirely eliminate this source of bias, but industry or advocacy-supported research that is not subject to peer review is questionable.

Still, it would be wrong to think that just because research is industry-funded it must be biased. “The peer review issue is a really big one,” says George Gray, former Acting Director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis . “If a study is peer-reviewed and thoroughly vetted by outside experts, I don’t care so much about the source of funding.”



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