Conflicts of Interest
All participants in the peer-review and publication process – authors, editors and reviewers – must identify potential conflicts of interest when fulfilling their roles and disclose all relationships that might be viewed as inappropriate.
- When authors submit a manuscript of any type or format they are responsible for disclosing all financial and personal relationships with organisations or people that might bias or be seen to bias their work. Such information should be detailed at the end of the document. If there are no conflicts of interest, they should state that none exist.
- Authors can request that certain reviewers or editors be excluded from reviewing their work due to an existing conflict of interest.
- When asked to review a manuscript, reviewers should divulge to editors any conflicts of interest. If reviewers believe that they cannot judge a manuscript impartially because of contact of a possible conflict of interest, they should decline the invitation to review and provide an explanation to the editor.
- Reviewers should be asked when asked to critique a manuscript if they have conflicts of interest that could complicate their review. They must disclose to editors any conflicts of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript, and should recuse themselves from reviewing specific manuscripts if the potential for bias exists. Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work they’re reviewing before its publication to further their own interests.
Possible conflicts of interest include:
- Having a history of serious (unresolved) disagreement with the authors,
- Co-researchers on a current research project,
- Having jointly published papers in the past three years,
- Having undertaken of an internal review panel for the paper before submission.
- If a reviewer is unsure whether a conflict of interest exists, advice should be sought from the editor.
- Reviewers must not use knowledge of the manuscript under review before its publication to further their own interests.
- If an editor has a conflict of interest or a relationship that could bias their treatment of the manuscript, they should excuse themselves from handling it.
- The editor must not be involved in decisions about papers which s/he has written him/herself or have been written by family members or colleagues or which relate to products or services in which the editor has an interest. Further, any such submission must be subject to all of the journal’s usual procedures, peer review must be handled independently of the relevant author/editor and their research groups, and there must be a clear statement to this effect on any such paper that is published.
- Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts should recuse themselves from editorial decisions if they have conflicts of interest or relationships that pose potential conflicts related to articles under consideration. Other editorial staff members who participate in editorial decisions must provide editors with a current description of their financial interests or other conflicts (as they might relate to editorial judgments) and recuse themselves from any decisions in which a conflict of interest exists. Editorial staff must not use information gained through working with manuscripts for private gain.
- Editors should publish regular disclosure statements about potential conflicts of interests related to their own commitments and those of their journal staff. Guest editors should follow these same procedures.
Reporting Conflicts of Interest
Articles should be published with statements or supporting documents, declaring:
- Authors’ conflicts of interest,
- Sources of support for the work, including sponsor names as well as explanations of the role of those sources – if any – in study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the report; the decision to submit the report for publication; or a statement declaring that the supporting source had no such involvement; and
- Whether the authors had access to the study data, with an explanation of the nature and extent of access, including whether access is on-going.
To support these statements, editors can request that authors of a study sponsored by a funder with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome sign a statement, such as: “I had full access to all of the data in this study and I take complete responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.”