Norms and Practices in the Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest: Evidence from the Field of Economics

Last registered on September 14, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Norms and Practices in the Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest: Evidence from the Field of Economics
Initial registration date
September 05, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 14, 2023, 12:41 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
September 14, 2023, 12:44 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
Imperial College London
PI Affiliation
Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis
PI Affiliation
ETH Zurich
PI Affiliation
University of Southern California
PI Affiliation
Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
Our first-order interest lies in understanding the current attitudes of economists toward their own field’s standards and practices concerning the disclosure of conflicts of interest. To that end, we intend to conduct a survey of economists about these standards and present them with hypothetical scenarios of potentially inadequate disclosure. Additionally, we intend to compare these norms against norms and beliefs about adequate disclosure practices held by journalists and the general population.
We intend to use the responses of the survey described below to answer a number of questions about economists’ perceived practices and norms. Such questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Do economists believe that they, personally, adequately disclose their potential conflicts of interest?
• Do economists believe that their colleagues (i.e. the field as a whole) adequately disclose potential conflicts of interest?
• Do economists believe that certain kinds of relationships present greater potential for a conflict of interest than others?
• How do these beliefs (systematically) vary with individuals’ personal characteristics (past consulting affiliations, tenure-status, gender, nationality)?
• Do economists believe that existing policies impose a net cost or provide a benefit to the profession?
• Do economists’ beliefs on these issues diverge from those held by other groups?
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Barrios, John et al. 2023. "Norms and Practices in the Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest: Evidence from the Field of Economics." AEA RCT Registry. September 14.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We intend to analyze the responses to the survey using various summary and analytical statistical methods. For example, questions of interest that could be answered include but are not limited to:
• Conditional on having received tenure, do more respondents disclose engaging in consulting activities?
• What are the changes in beliefs post disclosure treatment in the vignettes, how do these beliefs change vis-a-vis monetary, temporal and various other aspects
• What are the differences amongst vignettes, are some conflicts more important than others? For example, are pure ideological conflicts more or less relevant than conflicts driven by incentives?
• What is the effect of priming? Do the respondents react differently to economics vignettes when science/business vignettes are shown first? Are scientific conflicts more or less objective than economics conflicts?
In addition to being able to ask questions about individual groups of respondents’ beliefs, our different samples permit us to compare beliefs between groups. For example, we could investigate how different groups differently (or similarly) perceive (the intensity of) certain kinds of conflicts of interest. In each of these within - and between - group analyses, we intend to exploit the random variation in the generated vignettes to understand how groups respond to varying degrees of conflict of interest.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We intend to disseminate our survey to five groups of individuals: “most-elite” economists, “elite” economists, economists generally, journalists, and the general population. We are interested in these five distinct groups for a number of reasons. The first three groups provide gradations of career concerns etc. among economists who are likely to be most familiar with the particular institutional dynamics that we are interested in. Second, journalists are of interest to us because they represent a sample of “watchdogs” who are often trained to investigate and root out various kinds of potential misbehavior. That is, their opinions about what constitutes conflicts of interest – and if there exist discrepancies between what economists and journalists think – are of particular interest. Finally, we are interested in the opinions of the general public, who serve as another barometer of potential conflicts of interest. Though we cannot guarantee full access to contact information, we intend to identify the following four groups. We define the “most elite” group of economists as those participating in the “Expert Surveys” conducted by the Kent A. Clark Center for Global Markets at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. The number of active panelists in this group varies over time but is approximately 130 at the time of writing. We define the “elite” group of economists as those who are affiliated with either the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) or the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Both are selective think tanks that require some kind of nomination and/or application for an economist to join. For the NBER, affiliates must have a primary appointment at a university, whereas CEPR affiliates may hold primary appointments at other institutions such as other think tanks, central banks, international organizations etc. Whereas the NBER membership is primarily American, CEPR membership is primarily European. We plan to construct the general sample of economists as a collection of economists in Javdani et al's database of economists (deduplicating the most elite, NBER and CEPR subgroups). We ensure that each economist respondent is a member of only one of these groups. The latter two groups are constructed as follows. We acquired the email IDs of journalists in the USA through who have accumulated one of the biggest journalist databases. We have about 13,000 email IDs of business and finance journalists and 5843 email IDs of journalists in government and politics. This sample of journalists is of interest to us because of their training/practice of journalism in addition to having some domain knowledge in economics/business. Finally, we intend to use YouGov’s services to identify a representative sample of the US population
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done by qualtrics in the survey vignettes
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
3 Major Clusters - Economists, Journalists, General public
Sample size: planned number of observations
We expect 2000 economists, 2000 Journalists, 1500 general public
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Each cluster has its own treatment arm (a separate survey for each), therefore 3. Economists, Journalists, General public
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The University of Chicago AURA Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information


Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials