Industry-Funded Research and Bias in Food Science

27 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2020

See all articles by Anita Rao

Anita Rao

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: September 14, 2020

Abstract

Is industry-funded scientific research likely to be biased towards finding positive results? Using publication-level data consisting of abstracts, citation counts, and funding sources, I explore this question across various food groups. I evaluate each article’s abstract using crowdsourcing tools. I also collect each article’s media mentions. I first conduct a case study on oats, where I find industry-funded research is more positive compared to non-industry funded research. Extending analysis to all whole grains, I find industry-funded articles are 10% more positive. Moreover, industry-funded research is more likely to receive a mention in various industry newsletters. Coupled with firm incentives to use science to further their marketing efforts, such increased trade press coverage might play a non-trivial role in shaping consumers’ opinions on what is healthy.

Suggested Citation

Rao, Anita, Industry-Funded Research and Bias in Food Science (September 14, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3693449 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3693449

Anita Rao (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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