Honest broker

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A honest broker is an entity which keeps sets of private information but distributes parts of those sets to other entities who should not have access to the entire set. Honest brokers often work in clinical research with biological specimens; in that case, donors of specimens allow researchers to do research on those specimens, but typically want their specimen de-identified by having protected health information separated from it. The honest broker would keep both the specimen and associated protected health information, but only allow researchers to have access to the specimen without the protected health information.

Science term[edit]

In science-policy interaction, knowledge based decision-making is an important problem. The scientific term of the Honest Broker was presented by Roger A. Pielke, Jr. in The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (2007, Cambridge University Press)[1] to broaden the options of decision-making beyond traditional lines of 'pure scientist' versus 'issue advocate'. [2][3]


Honest brokers are typically appointed to a research project by an institutional review board.[4] They provide data from clinical and research sources for research use only and in accordance with policies which prohibit re-identification.[5]

Organizations conducting breast cancer research have identified access to biological specimens as a top priority, and therefore honest broker systems are key to research because they increase access to specimens.[6]


  1. ^ The Honest Broker Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, Roger A. Pielke, Jr., 2007, Cambridge University Press isbn: 9780521694810
  2. ^ Government science advice: where are the honest brokers? Scientific and political leaders need to focus more attention on the integrity of advisory processes, rather than taking sides in the political battles of the day Roger Pielke Jr 26 August 2014, The Guardian
  3. ^ Minerva, December 2008, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 485-489, Review of Roger S. Pielke, Jr., The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, by Mark B. Brown
  4. ^ Auray-Blais, C.; Patenaude, J. (2006). BMC Medical Ethics 7: 4. doi:10.1186/1472-6939-7-4.  edit
  5. ^ Dhir, R.; Patel, A. A.; Winters, S.; Bisceglia, M.; Swanson, D.; Aamodt, R.; Becich, M. J. (2008). "A multidisciplinary approach to honest broker services for tissue banks and clinical data". Cancer 113 (7): 1705–1715. doi:10.1002/cncr.23768. PMC 2745185. PMID 18683217.  edit
  6. ^ Taube, S. E.; Barr, P.; Livolsi, V.; Pinn, V. W. (1998). "Ensuring the Availability of Specimens for Research". The Breast Journal 4 (5): 391. doi:10.1046/j.1524-4741.1998.450391.x.  edit