In an article published in 2007, Peter Adams proposed a decision-making framework known as ‘PERIL’. Peter Miller summarises Adams’ PERIL framework as follows:
Purpose refers to the degree to which purposes are divergent between funder and recipient. For example, if the primary purpose of the recipient is the advancement of public good, receiving funds from dangerous consumption industries such as tobacco, alcohol and gambling will probably conflict with this purpose. Similarly, the risk is mitigated partially if the funder has a clear public good role. For example, the provincial government of Ontario runs a state monopoly on liquor distribution, the profits from which they invest in a broad range of research.
Extent is the degree to which the recipient relies on this source of funding. As the proportion of income increases, it becomes more difficult to separate from expectations associated with the source. For example, a young investigator may find an award from an industry-sponsored organization is the sole source of salary support, which could create pressure to obtain industry-favorable results to ensure the continuation of funding.
Relevant harm is the degree of harm associated with this form of consumption. The level of harm generated by different forms of consumption varies. Lower potency products, such as lottery tickets or low-alcohol beer, are on the whole less likely to lead to problems than more potent products, such as electronic gambling machines or extreme alcohol content beers.
Funders are unlikely to contribute anonymously because for them the point of the exercise is often to be identified, to form a visible association with public good activities for the purposes of positive branding. This in turn can be used for political or commercial purposes. The extent of visible association can be reduced by moving away from high profile advertisements (such as media releases of findings) to more discrete acknowledgements on plaques or at the end of publications. Through reputational risk, this strategy indirectly discourages engaging in industry-supported research.
The more direct the link between funder and researcher, the stronger the influence and the more visible the association. For example, direct funding by a tobacco company involves more exposure than receiving the funding via an independent intermediary agency, such as a foundation or government funding body. As long as there are no major conflicts of interest for the intermediary agency, the separation reduces the likelihood that recipients will feel obligations, even coercion, for their activities to comply with the interests of the donor. The overall extent of moral jeopardy ranges from very high levels, as indicated by high ratings on all five subcontinuums, to very low levels, as indicated by consistently low ratings. Decisions regarding future industry relationships are made accordingly.
Miller uses two case studies to illustrate how the PERIL analysis can be applied to specific funding opportunities:
Adams, P. J., ‘Assessing whether to receive funding support from tobacco, alcohol, gambling and other dangerous consumption industries’, Addiction, 102(7), 1027-1033
Miller, P. et al, ‘Relationships with the Alcohol Beverage Industry, Pharmaceutical Companies, and other Funding Agencies: Holy Grail or Poisoned Chalice?’, Publishing Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed (2008), 190-212
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