Med Journals Adopt New Disclosure Rules

Editors at leading medical journals have agreed to adopt a new standard conflict of interest disclosure form that probes deep into the financial and nonfinancial interests of published authors”. That’s the start of a blog titled “Med journals adopt disclosure rules” signed “Bob Grant” at The Scientist, based on a news item on The Wall Street Journal.

The journals involved are “The Lancet, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The British Medical Journal”.

Alongside what should be by now standard disclosure fare “information regarding financial relationships — such as board membership, consultancy, expert testimony, honoraria and stock options — and potentially conflicting financial relationships among spouses and children under age 18”, authors are going to be asked about “’relevant nonfinancial associations’, such as political, personal, institutional, or religious affiliations that ‘a reasonable reader would want to know about in relation to the submitted work.’” (those disclosures are between author and editors, not necessarily to be made public in full. And still…).

There are already calls to extend the new rules to peer reviewers and editors.

The disclosure form was “drafted by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)” and follows an initiative by the “Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)”, one of whose project is aptly titled “Integrity in Science”.

More details about that initiative are available in another Bob Grant blog, “Unifying journal disclosure rules” dated July 17, 2008.

At the time, the CSPI urged “full disclosure of potentially compromising financial relationships held by authors up to three years prior to submitting a manuscript. Financial conflicts include direct employment or consultancies with private firms, travel grants or speaking fees, paid expert testimony, membership on advisory boards, pending or existing patents, and stock ownership

On the non-financial side, disclosure should include “membership in NGOs that may have a stake in a particular manuscript’s publication”.

Authors of the CSPI document, “Merrill Goozner (Director of CSPI’s Integrity in Science program), […] University of Pennsylvania bioethicists Arthur Caplan and Jonathan Moreno and the editors of three journals – the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Addiction, and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons”.

Other groups involved were the “Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a consortium of journal editors that seek to address issues of scientific integrity in science publication”. COPE “counts all Elsevier journals as members”.

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Will journals in other specialty areas follow? What is the opinion by COPE and CSPI about recent and past scandals in Climate Science?