Industry-Funded Research and Bias in Food Science
27 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2020
Date Written: September 14, 2020
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.
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