Competing interests policy


A conflict of interest occurs when professional conclusions regarding the complete and objective presentation of research are influenced or could be influenced by a secondary interest. Therefore, we require that our authors disclose such possible competing interests. Competing interests often arise with regard to financial manners. However, conflicts of interest can also be non-financial, professional, or personal and can exist in relation to institutions or individuals. Examples of possible competing interest that are directly or indirectly related to the research include (but are not limited to) the following:

  •  employment or consultancy;
  •  position on advisory board, government board, board of directors, or other type of management relationships;
  •  financial relationships, for example stock or share ownership or investment interest;
  •  holdings of relatives that may have financial interest in the work;
  •  gifts;
  •  acting as an expert witness;
  •  membership of lobbying or advocacy organizations;
  •  personal relationships with individuals involved in the publication process.

If there are no competing interests in their submitted manuscripts, authors should state so explicitly: "The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest." This statement should come prior to the acknowledgements. If there are possible conflicts of interest, authors must state what competing interests are relevant to the submitted work. For example, "Author A is a member of the editorial board of the journal. Author B has received research funding from company Y. Author C is a member of committee Z."

Editors and referees

A conflict of interest takes place when there is any interference with the objective decision making by an editor or objective peer review by the referee. Such secondary interests could be financial, personal, or in relation to any organization. If editors or referees encounter their own conflict of interest, they have to declare so and – if necessary – renounce their role in assessing the respective manuscript. Reasons for editors and referees to recuse themselves from the peer-review process include (but are not limited to) the following:     

  •  He/she currently works or has recently worked at the same institution or organization as an author.
  •  He/she is currently collaborating with an author or has done so recently.
  •  He/she has published with an author during the past 3 years.
  •  He/she currently holds or has recently held grants with an author.
  •  He/she has a personal relationship with an author that does not allow them to evaluate the manuscript objectively.