Need for a conflict of interest policy

Steve Simon


I attended a very interesting session at the Joint Statistical Meetings last week on conflict of interest. I asked a question during the session that seemed quite obvious to me at the time, but which was apparently not thought of by any of the speakers. Why did no one in that session formally declare whether they had a conflict of interest? They were advocating policy changes that had serious financial implications for both pharmaceutical and academic statisticians.

Currently the American Statistical Association (ASA) has no policy on conflict of interest. I would like to lobby for a committee to develop a formal policy to guide any presentations at ASA sponsored meetings or publications in ASA sponsored journals where the speakers/authors make a formal or informal recommendation about a commercial product (most notably statistical software) or where they are advocating major policy changes that have broad financial implications.

I’m hoping that a letter to Amstat News would be a good way to kick off this campaign. Here’s what I found about submitting letters to Amstat News:

Amstat News welcomes news items and letters from readers on matters of interest to the Association and the profession. E-mail correspondence to amstat (at) Items must be received by the first of the preceding month to ensure appearance in the next issue (e.g., June 1 for the July issue). Amstat News accepts material in a Word document, a text file, or .pdf document, or as text within an email. (WordPerfect and LaTex documents cannot be opened.) A full page is approximately 1,200 words. Please note that the articles may be edited for space. If you would like to see a pdf proof of your article please make the request at submission time. Artwork should be sent at 300 dpi and as a .jpg, .tif, or .pdf format.*

You can find an earlier version of this page on my old website.