Thursday, October 21, 2010

When an academic study is about a sponsor's business interests, ...

... shouldn't that fact be disclosed -- especially if the study goes on to claim that "the [Pohang Iron and Steel Company] project would directly and indirectly generate 8.7 lakh jobs, and would contribute 11.5 per cent to Orissa's economy by 2017"?

The culprit here is NCAER -- National Council of Applied Economic Research. And the report is here.

Here's Priscilla Jebaraj in The Hindu:

... it has not been publicised that Posco is a sponsor of NCAER. While the Korean steel giant is mentioned on the list of sponsors and partners on the NCAER website, there is no disclosure of this conflict of interest in the published study.

Instead, in the preface to the report, NCAER Director-General Suman Bery merely states that the organisation was “approached” to carry out a cost benefit analysis of the project, and adds that: “It is NCAER's hope, the policy planners would find the report relevant and useful.”

“We do have processes in place for vetting the professional quality of our work. Our normal procedure is to indicate who the sponsor was in the foreward,” Mr. Bery told The Hindu on Wednesday, admitting that Posco had paid for the study.

“We do keep our ethics policy under review. If we were to release the report today, I think there would be a somewhat tighter formulation.” [I have added the bold emphasis and the link to NCAER Sponsors page]