The troublesome semantics of conflict of interest

Ethics and Behavior 2 (4):245 – 251 (1992)
Abstract
The sensible response to conflicts of interest is impaired by misconceptions and sloppy usage of terminology. Apparent and potential are widely misused modifiers for conflicts. Excessive legislative focus on financial interests limits understanding of the scope and significance of researchers' conflicts of interest. There is no moral or ethical failing in having a conflict of interest; the problem occurs when conflicts are not disclosed appropriately and when conflicts are allowed to bias research, teaching, or practice. Avoidance and prevention should be applied to bias, not conflicts.
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