Conflict of Interest   Case Study Reviewr
      A graduate student is being paid to work on a research project that is funded by a private corporation. The student is using the data that he is collecting for his dissertation. The faculty member directing the research project is also the student’s advisor. This is the faculty member’s first research project funded by this corporation. Getting the initial funding was difficult and highly competitive. However, if the research project is completed on time and the results look promising, the company has indicated that it will be willing to fund future projects. As the faculty member will be applying for tenure within the next two years, and levels of external funding for research activities are a factor in the tenure decision , she is very eager to finish this project on time.

At a weekly meeting, the faculty advisor and student review the data that the student has collected to-date. They estimate that the student has about two more months of data collection for his dissertation. After the meeting when reviewing the progress of the research project, the faculty member anticipates that there is at least six more months of data collection needed for the project. She realizes that once the graduate student gathers enough data for his dissertation, he won’t be working on the project as much, if at all, and she does not have time to train another student or technician.

At the next weekly meeting, the faculty member tells the student that she has reviewed the data collected by the student to-date and his dissertation proposal, and has concluded that the student will not be able to collect enough data in the two next months for his dissertation. More precisely, she estimates that the student will have to continue working for at least another four months, or maybe even until the end of the research study . The student is very disappointed as he thought that the data he had collected to-date seemed very promising.