CORRESPONDENCE

Rule out conflicts of interest in psychology awards

Tilburg University, the Netherlands.
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Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

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Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

Search for this author in:

Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

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The payment of substantive fees to some psychologists who give talks on their own research has sparked concerns over conflicts of interest (COIs; Nature 571, 20–23; 2019). We cannot rule out the possibility that the handing out of academic awards and prizes in psychology by professional societies or associations might also be subject to COIs.

We scrutinized the websites of 58 psychology societies using a pre-registered protocol (A. H. Stoevenbelt et al. Preprint at https://psyarxiv.com/phyu3; 2019). Our aim was to determine whether we could exclude the possibility that any recipients of such awards were closely affiliated with individuals on the award committees — for example, as family members, collaborators, mentees or colleagues.

Most of the societies (72.4%) failed to highlight any potential COIs in the committees responsible for selecting award winners. Less than half of them (44.8%) published no COI regulations at all. And, of those that did, only half (27.6%) explicitly mentioned avoiding COIs in choosing prizewinners.

We urge psychology societies to avoid conveying the impression of hidden nepotism by openly publishing their policies on personal COIs.

Nature 572, 312 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-02429-3

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