Rather than focus on researchers that are not behaving ethically, Dr. Butts focused on those who are behaving ethically but run into problems because of differences in cultural expectations or context issues such as the source of funding. For example, expectations about the ultimate goals of the research, sharing of results, and other issues can differ depending on whether a project is supported by a profit-making company or a government agency.
Companies often seek out collaborations with universities because university researchers are perceived to be neutral and so the results will have more credibility. This premise only holds if the public believes that they can trust university researchers. Some people question whether industry funding taints university research. Both companies and universities have a significant stake in ensuring that this is not the case. Two specific issues that arise in this context are the right to publish and the integrity of results.
Misunderstandings and problems sometimes arise from differences in how government, industry, and universities relate to each other in the United States compared to other countries. In some countries, government takes a much more active role than the United States does in promoting their industries. Universities in some countries may be more willing than those in the United States to enter “work for hire” agreements with industry, where the sponsoring company exercises significant control over the project. Companies also need to be attentive to faculty expectations about continued funding beyond the original research program, being clear that research without commercial potential will not receive continued funding even if the science is interesting.
Dr. Butts stated that it is important to avoid value judgments in international collaborations. Some common practices overseas might not be typical in the United States, which does not mean they are wrong. It is also important to ask questions, clarify the goals and expectations of all the partners, and establish how the project will be managed during the initial negotiations. Sometimes the parties will find that research collaboration will not work because of divergent goals or for other reasons.
Lisa Bero, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, discussed her work over the past several decades with