Conflicts of interest in biomedical publications: considerations for authors, peer reviewers, and editors.
Croat Med J. 2013 Dec ;54(6):600-8. PMID: 24382859
Armen Yuri Gasparyan
This article overviews evidence on common instances of conflict of interest (COI) in research publications from general and specialized fields of biomedicine. Financial COIs are viewed as the most powerful source of bias, which may even distort citation outcomes of sponsored publications. The urge to boost journal citation indicators by stakeholders of science communication is viewed as a new secondary interest, which may compromize the interaction between authors, peer reviewers and editors. Comprehensive policies on disclosure of financial and non-financial COIs in scholarly journals are presented as proxies of their indexing in evidence-based databases, and examples of successful medical journals are discussed in detail. Reports on clinical trials, systematic reviews, meta-analyses and clinical practice guidelines may be unduly influenced by author-pharmaceutical industry relations, but these publications do not always contain explicit disclosures to allow the readers to judge the reliability of the published conclusions and practice-changing recommendations. The article emphasizes the importance of adhering to the guidance on COI from learned associations such as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). It also considers joint efforts of authors, peer reviewers and editors as a foundation for appropriately defining and disclosing potential COIs.