Journal editors subject authors to greater scrutiny

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Researchers submitting manuscripts to many medical journals will have to fill out a more probing disclosure form aimed at exposing potential conflicts of interest.

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has issued a revised Uniform Disclosure Form for Potential Conflicts of Interest. The new form, which must be completed separately by each author, requires identification of direct or indirect commercial support received for the manuscript, as well as any revenue from commercial entities with interests relevant to the submitted work in the past three years. In addition, authors are required to identify relevant financial relationships involving their spouses or partners and children, along with non-financial associations, including personal, professional, political, institutional or religious associations that might have bearing on the submitted work.

“Although efforts are underway to establish uniform reporting systems, there is currently no uniform vehicle for the disclosure of financial associations,” said ICMJE leaders in an editorial. The new standardized form, they said, will lessen confusion.

The Wall Street Journal reported that at least a dozen journals have agreed to use the new form, to be phased in over the next few months. ICMJE member publications include The British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. The group's leadership will meet in late April to tweak the form based on feedback and considers it to be in beta testing until then.

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