Journal Latest to Confront Conflicts of Interest

Journal Latest to Confront Conflicts of Interest

first_imgJournal editors are always keen to ask authors to disclose individual contributions to papers and potential conflicts of interest. Today, the editors of PLoS Medicine published an editorial calling for editors to do exactly the same because their “political and scientific views, personal relationships, and professional and financial interests can all conceivably interfere with the objectivity of their decisions.”An example is the added financial incentive of publishing papers likely to be reprinted as best sellers, when editorial boards have to consider the journal’s survival in an increasingly competitive world in addition to scientific merit.The editorial identifies another four issues that contribute to bias in medical literature and a lack of transparency in scientific publishing, namely, recognition of interests beyond commercial, the problem of ghost writing, undisclosed original protocols, and the bias toward publishing only “exciting” results. 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She also points out that open access is not the only way to avoid conflicts of interest introduced by reprint sales. If editorial departments are kept strictly separate from journal business management, editors should never be aware of reprint sales, Kelner adds, citing Science’s example. “The concepts raised by the PLoS editors are important but not new and have been addressed by our organization,” says Margaret Winkler, president of the World Association of Medical Editors. Winkler points out an additional issue that the editorial misses, required for full transparency in medical literature, namely, the requirement that “authors register clinical trials at trial outset rather than after they determine that the results, or which results, are to their liking.”last_img

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