Conflict of interest policies in science and medical journals: Editorial practices and author disclosures

Science and Engineering Ethics 7 (2):205-218 (2001)

Abstract

This study examines the extent to which scientific and biomedical journals have adopted conflict of interest (COI) policies for authors, and whether the adoption and content of such policies leads to the publishing of authors’ financial interest disclosure statements by such journals. In particular, it reports the results of a survey of journal editors about their practices regarding COI disclosures. About 16 percent of 1396 highly ranked scientific and biomedical journals had COI policies in effect during 1997. Less than 1 percent of the articles published during that year in the journals with COI policies contained any disclosures of author personal financial interests while nearly 66 percent of the journals had zero disclosures of author personal financial interests. Nearly three fourths of journal editors surveyed usually publish author disclosure statements suggesting that low rates of personal financial disclosures are either a result of low rates of author financial interest in the subject matter of their publications or poor compliance by authors to the journals’ COI policies.

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