Conflicts of interest (sometimes referred to as 'competing interests')
Occur when outside issues affect, or are perceived to affect, the neutrality or objectivity of research. It may occur at any stage of the research cycle, including during the experimental phase, while a manuscript is being written, or during the process of converting a manuscript to a published article.
Conflicts of interest do not always stop work from being published or prevent someone from being involved in the review process. However, they must be declared. An explicit declaration of all possible conflicts – whether they had any influence or not – allows others to make informed decisions about the work and its review process.
If conflicts of interest are identified after publication, this may be embarrassing for authors, editors, and journals. It may be necessary to publish a corrigendum or reassess the review process.
Some common conflicts include:
- Personal – a pre-existing relationship induces an individual to misbehave.
- Financial – an individual receives payment relating to the subject of the research or from affiliated organizations.
- Intellectual property – an individual puts undue emphasis on patents or trademarks that they own or are owned by their organization.
- Affiliations – an individual is employed by or is a member of an organization with an interest in the research outcome.
- Ideology – an individual is influenced by beliefs or associations relating to the subject of the research.
The Medical Science Journal for Advance Research should carefully consider how these and other similar topics may affect us and how they could affect others involved in handling the manuscript.
Conflicts for the authors are most often associated with the risk of bias in a manuscript. If the authors have any interest or association that could be seen to have influenced the Editor's decision-making process, the authors should ensure that it is declared at the time of submission.
The authors may be asked to make specific changes to the manuscript as a result of the declaration. These requests are not an accusation of impropriety. The Editor or Reviewer is helping to protect the author's work against potential criticisms.
If the authors are in any doubt about declaring a potential conflict, remember that if it is revealed later – especially after publication – it could cause more problems than merely declaring it at the time of submission. Undeclared conflicts of interest could lead to a corrigendum or retraction in the most severe cases.
Whether or not the authors believe a conflict of interest exists, the authors will be asked to include a statement in your manuscript. If the authors believe no conflicts exist, the authors will be asked to confirm this in submitting the form of the manuscript.
As a member of a journal's Editorial Board, the editors need to be very aware of the risk of conflicts when handling a manuscript.
Firstly, the Editor should assess the author's potential conflicts. If the editors have recently co-authored with the author of the manuscript, the Editor could be perceived to be influenced by the Editor's relationship. Similarly, if the Editor has recently shared an affiliation or employment history with the author, it could also be seen to be inappropriate for the Editor to handle their work. The Medical Science Journal for Advance Research aims to avoid assigning papers to Editors who might have conflicts, but we also expect our Editors to declare any conflicts. If the Editor believes a conflict exists, the Editor should refuse to handle the manuscript.
As a subject expert, the Medical Science Journal for Advance Research relies on the Editor's knowledge of the discipline to assess any conflicts declared by a submitting author. The Editor is also uniquely placed to be able to identify any undeclared conflicts that an author might have. It would be best if the Editor thought about these factors when making a recommendation on the manuscript.
It would be best if the Editor also considered potential conflicts when assigning the manuscript to reviewers. The Medical Science Journal for Advance Research performs conflict of interest checks on all reviewers before receiving the manuscript for review, but the Editor should also rely on the Editor's knowledge of the sector to inform the assignments. Typically, the Editor should not select a referee who:
- works or has recently worked at the same institution as the author; or
- has recently co-authored a paper with the author; or
- has a recent or current collaboration with the author.
Discretion may be applied when publications are authored by a consortium. If the Editor has concerns about a potential reviewer, consider appointing someone else. If the Editor believes a reviewer's recommendation on a manuscript was made to further their interests, the Editor may tell the authors they do not need to address that point.
The Medical Science Journal for Advance Research is aware that certain specialist areas may involve a higher likelihood of association and overlap between researchers. In some instances, the Editor may be the best-placed individual to act as Editor despite a connection with the author or authors. In this case, the authors should inform the Medical Science Journal for Advance Research editorial contact. They can then refer the case for review by our Research Integrity team.
By agreeing to peer review a manuscript, the Reviewers are providing an essential neutral assessment. As such, the Editors should ensure that the Reviewers have no conflicts of interest this thing prevents the Reviewers from unfair acts.
The Reviewers should ensure that the Reviewers have no recent association with the author and have not previously co-authored them. The Reviewers should also not have a recent shared employment history.
The Medical Science Journal for Advance Research operates a 'double-blind' approach to peer review. The Reviewer's name will not be made available to the authors. It allows the Reviewers to provide honest, pertinent feedback.
Human and Animal Rights
All research must have been carried out within an appropriate ethical framework. If the suspicion that work has not taken place within an appropriate ethical framework, Editors will follow may reject the manuscript or contact the author(s)' ethics committee. On rare occasions, if the Editor has serious concerns about a study's ethics, the manuscript may be rejected on ethical grounds, even if approval from an ethics committee has been obtained.
Research involving human subjects, human material, or human data must have been performed according to the Declaration of Helsinki and must have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee.
The submitted study has to be supported by the ethics/bioethics committee approval. Authors reporting the use of a new procedure or tool in a clinical setting, for example, as a technical advance or case report, must give a clear justification in the manuscript for why the new procedure or tool was deemed more appropriate than usual clinical practice to meet the patient's clinical need.
Such a justification is not required if the new procedure is already approved for clinical use at the authors' institution. The authors will be expected to have obtained ethics committee approval and informed patient consent for any practical use of a novel procedure or tool where a clear clinical advantage based on clinical need was not apparent before treatment.
Experimental research on vertebrates or any regulated invertebrates must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines (including details, images related to participants are not allowed) and, where available, should have been approved by an appropriate ethics committee.
A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines (e.g., the revised Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in the UK and Directive 2010/63/EU in Europe) and ethical approval (including the name of the ethics committee and the reference number where appropriate) must include in the manuscript.
If an exemption has been granted for a study from the requirement for ethical approval, this should also be detailed in the manuscript. (including the name of the ethics committee, which granted the exemption and the reasons for the exemption).
The Editor will consider animal welfare issues and reserves the right to reject a manuscript, especially if the research involves protocols that are inconsistent with commonly accepted norms of animal research. In rare cases, Editors may contact the ethics committee for further information.
Field studies and other non-experimental research on animals must comply with institutional, national, or international guidelines and approved by the ethics committee.
A statement detailing compliance with relevant guidelines and appropriate permissions or licenses must be included in the manuscript. We recommend that authors comply with the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the IUCN Policy Statement on Research Involving Species at Risk of Extinction.
Authors are encouraged to adhere to the State Consumer Protection Service or appropriate International Establishments for studies reporting livestock trials with production, health, and food-safety outcomes.