Independent societies role in life sciences

Many vendor / consumer business areas exist supported by societies.  These are bodies typically representing both the consumers and the vendors, that aim to promote and improve how a particular business area functions. 

In the case of clinical research we have a large number of groups - some of which are cross department / function / therapeutic area - such as the Drug Information Association. We also have narrower groups such as CDISC - focusing on data standards or ACDM/SCDM focusing on data management. 

One of the big challenges that each society organisation faces is to balance their existence between their reliance on the sponsorship they receive versus the guidance they have a responsibility to offer.   Sponsorship may come from subscription fees but also come from commercial companies that wish to work with the society to promote their product. 

No organisation wishes to challenge their sponsors to the extent that they cease to be sponsors.  At the same time, no society wish to be seen to be failing to share effective knowledge - in the form of tools / papers - that will give the societies existence value and meaning.     

A failure to share knowledge may take the form of the presentation of partial information, or, a resistance to publish materials that though peer reviewed and representative, may challenge a subset of sponsoring stakeholders. 

Editorial control is a critical governance aspect of any industry society.  Editorial bias should be avoided at all cost.   A society that fails to avoid editorial bias ceases to be a representative society and instead becomes a voice for sponsor interests.