Alcohol industry actors are known to be involved in scientific research. Despite concerns regarding bias, the extent of involvement and coverage of this research are unknown.
We aimed to investigate the extent and type of scientific research 1918–2019 which was supported by the alcohol industry, including alcohol companies themselves and other organizations, such as trade associations. We identified bibliographic records from the Web of Science suite of databases which have named alcohol companies or organizations in the fields relating to author affiliations and support declarations. We then ascertained trends in publications over time, type of support, funding, outlets (such as journal titles), subject areas covered (such as health) and named companies (such as Carlsberg) and organizations (such as Drinkaware).
The analysis included 13 481 unique records, 11 014 (82%) were authored or funded by alcohol companies and 2488 (18%) were authored or funded by other organizations. The majority of the records (90%, 12 157/13 481) were journal publications. The most common subject areas covered by the publications were biology (5415/13 481, 40%), chemistry (3937/13 481, 29%) and health (3707/13 481, 27%). In line with general publishing trends, there has been an overall increase in research funded or supported by alcohol companies and organizations since records began. The main exception is the steady decline in company author affiliations, particularly in health-related topics since the mid-1990s.
Alcohol companies and related organizations are extensively involved in or supporting scientific research according to data in Web of Science. This does not, however, necessarily reflect the totality of scientific research produced by alcohol companies and related organizations.