“Conflicts of interest” are said to compromise the impartiality of research, but what would it mean to be disinterested? Ethical codes warn us that researchers’ objectivity can be corrupted by a clashing set of interests—those of funding agencies, clients and publics, as well as researchers’ self-interest in professional advancement or personal gain. If the resolution of such conflicts might typically call for avoidance, recusal or disclosure, what would such strategies mean for the design disciplines and research on the built environment? What varied interests, expressed in the form of money or other manifestations of influence, do designers contend with? Who does impartiality protect, and when are conflicts of interest productive?
Issue 05 asks how researchers define an ethics of interest and disinterest across diverse structures of research funding. How do designers reify, leverage, alter or sidestep the constraints of financial support, and from what vantage points? How is the value of research assessed, and in what marketplaces?