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June 29, 2015

Smithsonian Plans New Rules on Disclosing Research Funding

The Smithsonian Institution will tighten its conflict-of-interest guidelines for researchers with an eye toward preventing corporations and other outside donors from exercising undue influence on scientific studies, reports The New York Times.

The nonprofit museum and research complex said Friday that it will implement requirements on disclosure of researchers' funding sources that go beyond those of most academic institutions and scientific journals.

The organization commissioned internal and external reviews of its policies after environmental activists released documents earlier this year showing that Wei-Hock Soon, a Smithsonian researcher known for attacking the scientific consensus on climate change, had not disclosed funding from the fossil-fuel industry and coal-burning utilities.

"We’re pleased that we have an opportunity to get out front ... hopefully become a leader on this issue," said W. John Kress, the Smithsonian's acting under secretary for science.