Background There has been significant discussion about the need to manage conflict of interest (COI) in medical journals. This has lead many journals to implement policies to manage COI for authors and reviewers; however, surprisingly little attention has been focused on the COI of journal editors.
Objective The goal of this exploratory study was to determine whether the policies were accessible to the public and to researchers, and to discuss the potential impact on public transparency.
Design The authors conducted an internet search of editor COI policy instruments that have been developed, implemented and communicated by the top 10 peer-reviewed medical journals (2010 ISI Web of Knowledge Impact Factor), and assessed their general accessibility by gauging the level of difficulty in navigating the journal's website (number of clicks to find the policy instruments).
Results Only four of the 10 medical journals (40%) in this study have accessible COI policy directives that include editors (JIM, PLoS Medicine, AIM, CMAJ). One journal (NEJM) had an editorial on the subject, and another (The Lancet) mentioned editor COI in their general guidelines. These documents are not readily accessible; starting from the journal's main website at least four clicks are needed to access these documents.
Conclusion These results suggest that there is a general lack of accessible editor COI policy instruments among leading medical journals, something that may consequently have a negative impact on the trust accorded to these journals.
- Conflict of interest
- editorial policies
- policy development
- ethics committees/consultation
- research ethics
- professional misconduct
- allocation of health care resources
- applied and professional ethics
- public health ethics
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Funding Quebec Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC) and the Ethics Office of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
- The concise argument
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- Conflict-of-interest disclosure at medical journals in Japan: a nationwide survey of the practices of journal secretariats
- Mandatory disclosure of financial interests of journals and editors
- Conflict of interest policies and disclosure requirements among European Society of Cardiology national cardiovascular journals
- Ten years later: a review of the US 2009 institute of medicine report on conflicts of interest and solutions for further reform
- Commercial influence and the content of medical journals
- A cross-sectional examination of conflict-of-interest disclosures of physician-authors publishing in high-impact US medical journals
- Improving researchers’ conflict of interest declarations
- Reporting of conflicts of interest by authors of primary studies on health policy and systems research: a cross-sectional survey
- Withholding conflicts of interest: the many flaws of the new ICMJE disclosure form
- Science journal editors’ views on publication ethics: results of an international survey