Public trust in science and the reliability of published articles in many respects depends on how openly resolved a conflict of interest during the planning, execution, writing, reviewing, editing and publishing scientific work.
A conflict of interest arises when an author (or the organizations representing this author), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence their actions. These relationships are also known as "ambivalent relationship", "competing interests" or "competing loyalties." A conflict of interest is present when professional judgment concerning the main issues (such as the well-being of patients, or the validity of the study), can be influenced by minor issues (such as financial gain). The feeling of a conflict of interests is as important as the real conflict of interests.
Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancy, stock ownership, honoraria, paid expert patents and evaluation) are the most typical examples of conflicts of interests that are most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and science in general. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships and contest, scientific competition and intellectual beliefs. Authors should avoid entering into an agreement with the sponsors of research, both commercial and non-profit, which may affect the authors' access to research data, or the ability to analyze and interpret data, or independently prepare and publish manuscripts, when and where they see fit.
All participants in the process of reviewing and publishing - not only authors but also reviewers, editors and members of the editorial board - should take account of their conflicts of interests in performing their functions in the review process and the publication of the article and should notify all relationships that could be viewed as a potential conflict of interests.
Potential conflicts of interests related to individual authors obligations.
When authors submit a manuscript in any format, they are required to disclose all financial and personal relationships that might affect their work. They should clearly indicate whether there is a possibility for a conflict of interests. It should be stated in the manuscript as a special form of conflict of interests notice. If necessary, additional information must be indicated in the accompanying letter. Authors should indicate the persons who provided assistance in writing this article, or given other forms of assistance, and to disclose the sources of funding for this assistance.
Editors need to decide whether to publish the information disclosed by authors about potential conflicts of interests. In ambiguous cases, preference should be given to the publication of these data.
Potential conflicts of interests related to project support.
In recent years, more and more funds for research are allocated individual business firms, private organizations or government. The terms of such financing could potentially lead to biased evaluation of the work or otherwise discredit the research.
Authors should specify the role of the sponsor's work, if any, in study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of data, writing a report and a decision on the publication of the report. If the above aspects of the work was carried out without the participation of sponsors, authors must also specify it.
Editors can not consider an article if a sponsor controls the author's right to publish.
Potential conflicts of interest related to commitments of editors, journal staff, or reviewers.
Editors should avoid selecting external reviewers with potential conflicts of interest, for example, if these reviewers are working in the same department or institution as one of the authors.
Reviewers should inform the editors of any conflict of interests that may influence their opinions of the manuscript, and they should abandon their own review, if there are grounds for bias. Reviewers should not use the information on the reviewed work to their advantage before it is published.
Editors taking a final decision on the manuscripts should have no personal, professional or financial interest in any aspect of the published work. Other members of the editorial board, in the event that they are involved in making editorial decisions, must inform the editor about his own financial interests and to give up decision-making in the presence of a conflict of interests. Editorial staff must not use information obtained while working with manuscripts for private purposes.