Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest, also known as competing interest can be understood as anything that exists when an author (or the author’s institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships with other persons or organizations that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions. There must be clear definitions of conflicts of interest and processes for handling conflict of interest of authors, reviewers, editors, journals and publishers, whether identified before or after publication.

A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest may be influenced by a secondary interest. Conflict of interest can be financial or non-financial, professional, or personal.

  • Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership or options, honoraria, patents, and paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the publication, the authors, and of interpretation itself.
  • However, conflicts can occur for
    other reasons, such as personal relationships or rivalries, academic competition, and intellectual beliefs.

Maintaining transparency in competing interests allows public trust in the process and the credibility of published work. The following section highlights on conflict of interest for various participants including author, reviewer, editor and journal or publisher.

Author

Authors must declare all relevant financial or non-financial, professional, or personal competing interests for consideration during manuscript submission. The following subsection might be helpful in identifying potential conflict of interest.

What is a ‘conflict of interest’?

Any financial interests or connections, direct or indirect, or other situations that might raise the question of bias in the work reported or the conclusions, implications or opinions stated including- pertinent commercial or other sources of funding for the individual author(s) or for the associated department or organization, personal relationships, or direct academic competition.

How can I be sure if I should declare something?

When authors submit a manuscript of any type or format they are responsible for disclosing all financial and personal relationships that might bias or be seen to bias their work. The author should ask themselves if there any arrangement that would compromise the perception of their impartiality or that of their co-authors if it was to emerge after publication and they had not declared it.

Further, the author can use Conflict of Interest form developed by
ICMJE to facilitate and standardize the authors’ disclosures which asks authors to disclose the following three types of information-

  • Associations with commercial entities that provided support for the work reported in the submitted manuscript (the timeframe for disclosure in this section of the form is the life span of the work being reported).
  • Associations with commercial entities that could be viewed as having an interest in the general area of the submitted manuscript (in the three years before submission of the manuscript).
  • Non-financial associations that may be relevant or seen as relevant to the submitted manuscript.

All authors can download and complete a copy of the unified disclosure form, which is available as a PDF at this link. They should fill the form as applicable and send a copy to their corresponding author who must insert the summary statement (derived from the information provided in the forms) within the submitted manuscript. This statement will be included in the published article.

Who should make the declaration?

The submitting author (corresponding author) is expected to obtain the relevant information from all co-authors and declare a conflict of interest statement. Submitting author is responsible to read and let other authors inform about publication requirement as well as ethics based on which all co-author agree to submit in the selected journal by following best practice. Refer to Authorship for more detail on author’s responsibilities.

How should the declaration be made?

Declaration of any Conflict of Interest should be made in the manuscript during submission. This information will be available to the Editors. If your manuscript is published, this information will be communicated in a statement in the published paper.

Editor may also ask to submit a separate signed Conflict of Interest form(s) if required. For example, from authors of a study sponsored by a funder with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome editors may request to sign a competing interest statement, such as “I had full access to all of the data in this study and I take complete responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.”

What happens if I do not know about any potential conflict of interest for my co-authors?

As submitting author (corresponding author), it is your responsibility to discuss & confirm with all co-authors whether they have any competing interest to declare. Any existing conflict of interest should be clearly stated on behalf of and for each co-author. Refer to Authorship for more detail on the author’s responsibilities. The editor reserves right to ask further information before the paper is reviewed.

Do other participants also covered by a similar code?

All participants in the peer-review and publication process; not only authors but also peer reviewers, editors, and the publisher must consider their conflicts of interest when fulfilling their roles in the process of article review and publication and must disclose all relationships that could be viewed as potential conflicts of interest.

Reviewer

Most of the AIJR publications follow the double-blind review process which minimizes personal competing interest however, all reviewers must declare their own financial or non-financial, professional, or possible personal competing interests.

All reviewers are asked to declare any potential conflict of interest during the submission of their review report. Reviewers should inform the editor at the time they are asked to review a manuscript if they have conflicts of interest that could bias their review and if necessary disqualify themselves from involvement in the assessment of the manuscript.

Reviewers must not use knowledge of the work they’re reviewing before its publication to further their own interests.

Editor

All Editors require to submit a Conflict of Interest statement to the publisher. Editors must declare their own financial, or professional, or personal competing interests.

Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts should recuse themselves from editorial decisions if they have conflicts of interest or relationships that pose potential conflicts related to articles under consideration. Editors would not handle the review of a manuscript if a potential Conflict of Interest exists and instead would pass it on to another editorial colleague. Other editorial staff members who participate in editorial decisions must provide editors with a current description of their financial interests or other conflicts (as they might relate to editorial judgments) and recuse themselves from any decisions in which a conflict of interest exists.

Editorial staff must not use information gained through working with manuscripts for private gain. Guest editors should follow these same procedures.

Manuscripts authored or co-authored by an editor will be handled by alternate editors with no involvement of the authoring editor in the review or editorial process.