Public trust in the peer-review process and the credibility of published articles depend in part on how well conflict of interest is handled during writing, peer review, and editorial decision making. Conflict of interest exists when an author (or the author’s institution), reviewer, or editor has financial or personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) his or her actions (such relationships are also known as dual commitments, competing interests, or competing loyalties). These relationships vary from those with negligible potential to those with great potential to influence judgment, and not all relationships represent a real conflict of interest. The potential for conflict of interest can exist whether or not an individual believes that the relationship affects his or her scientific judgment. Financial relationships (such as employment, consultancies, stock ownership, honoraria, and paid expert testimony) are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest and the most likely to undermine the credibility of the journal, the authors, and of science itself. These may be personal, political, or intellectual, and may include any expression of firmly held views relevant to the subject of submission. Such disclosures may be original, or they may be references to opinions previously expressed in books or monographs, opposite editorials (op-eds) or public comments, or to some prior sworn testimony or lobbying of legislators or legislative bodies. Disclosable non-financial conflicts of interest will also include membership or affiliation to nongovernmental organizations that have an interest in the submission. However, conflicts can occur for other reasons, such as personal relationships, academic competition, and intellectual passion.
Therefore, all sources of financial support for the project should be disclosed. All manuscripts for articles, original research reports, editorials, comments, reviews, book reviews, and letters that are submitted to the journal must be accompanied by a conflict of the interest disclosure statement or a declaration by the authors that they do not have any conflicts of interest to declare. All articles that are published in the journal must be accompanied by this conflict of the interest disclosure statement or a statement that the authors have replied that they have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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