Conflict of interest

What is a conflict of interest?

A potential conflict of interests exists when an author, peer reviewers or an editor has any relationship that could influence their credibility or undermine his actions. These relationship is also known as double liability, competing interests or competing loyalty.

A conflict of interest militates to perform full and credible research and present its results, expert review and make a decision of publish a manuscript.

A conflict of interest exists when professional judgement concerning primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain). Perceptions of conflict of interest are as important as actual conflicts of interest.

A conflict of interest could be financial or non-financial, professional or personal. A conflict of interest may occur concerning the affiliation to establishment or organization or another person.

Types of conflicts of interest

The most common form of conflict of interest is financial relationship — employment relationship, consultancies, stock ownership, grants, fees, license and paid expert testimony. The example may include a researcher getting royalty from a company which product he is investigating.

The conflicts may arise for other reasons and include personal or private relationships or rivalries, academic competition or differences in ideologies. The example may include a researcher investigating a product of a company in which his relative or an author and peer reviewer are working and are in interpersonal conflict.

Declaration of any potential conflict of interest is compulsory requirement and an integral part of transparency of investigation.

Who must declare a conflict of interest?

All participants of publication process — authors, peer reviewers, editors — must disclose all relationships that can be viewed as a potential conflict of interest.

Authors

When submitting a manuscript, the authors are responsible for disclosing all competing interests that are likely to appear to interfere their work (financial or private relationships with organizations, commercial companies, producers and distributors of medications, medical and laboratory facilities relevant to the article. All authors must disclose potential conflicts of interest that could be considered to bias the results or conclusions represented in the article.

The author must include the information on a conflict of interest at the end of the manuscript (prior the references) in the section ‘Information disclosure statement’ under the heading ‘Conflict of interest statement’. If any author has no a conflict of interest, you should state: ‘The author(s) declare(s) that there is no conflict of interest’.

Peer reviewers

Peer reviewers must inform the editor of the journal about any conflict of interest that could bias their opinions of the manuscript and should recuse themselves from reviewing the manuscript if potential bias exists (financial or private interactions with an author of a manuscript and/or organization, commercial companies, producers or distributors of medications, medical or laboratory facilities relative to the article).

If any conflict of interest is disclosed when submitting a manuscript, a peer reviewer should recuse himself from critiquing and send a letter to the editorial board with the following text: ‘Objective peer review is impossible due to a conflict of interest’ and state the content of conflict.

If no conflict of interest, after a manuscript has been reviewed a peer reviewer should state at the end of a review: ‘Peer reviewer declares no conflict of interest’.

Editors and journal staff

The editors should declare their own competing interests (financial or personal relationships with an author and/or organizations, commercial companies, producers and distributors of medications, medical and laboratory facilities related to the article) and, if any reasons for biased decision, recuse themselves from participating in estimating a manuscript. The journal staff should not use the information gained through working with the manuscript for private gain and disclose confidential information to the third persons.

 

Conflict of interest is not non-ethic, but all conflicts of interest existing should be disclosed.

If suspicion on undisclosed conflict of interest, the editorial board is governed by the COPE algorithm

The reviewer suspects undisclosed conflict of interest in a submitted manuscript http://publicationethics.org/files/COI%20submitted.pdf

A reader suspects undisclosed conflict of interest in a published article http://publicationethics.org/files/COI%20published.pdf

 

The journal may use the information about the disclosure of conflict of interest as a factor influencing the decision of the editorial board. The information about conflict of interest is placed at the end of an article (prior the references) in the section ‘Information disclosure statement’ under the heading ‘Conflict of interest statement’.