Declaration of competing interests

A competing interest—often called a conflict of interest—exists when professional judgment concerning a primary interest (such as patients' welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain or personal rivalry). It may arise for the authors of an article in The BMJ when they have a financial interest that may influence, probably without their knowing, their interpretation of their results or those of others.

We believe that, to make the best decision on how to deal with an article, we should know about any competing interests that authors may have, and that if we publish the article readers should know about them too. We are not aiming to eradicate such interests; they are almost inevitable. We will not reject your article simply because you have a conflict of interest, but we want you to make a declaration on whether or not you have competing interests. (We also ask our staff and reviewers to declare any competing interests.)

A declaration of interests for all authors must be received before an article can be reviewed and accepted for publication. It should take one of two forms, depending on what type of article you are submitting.

Articles other than editorials, education articles, and research papers

From January 2013, The BMJ will ask authors to read BMJ policy on declaration of interests and include the following statement in their manuscript at submission:

I/We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: [list them or state none].

Statements from regular contributors will be updated annually and displayed on bmj.com.

Editorials and education articles (clinical reviews, practice articles and state of the art reviews)

The BMJ now asks all authors of editorials and education articles to complete the BMJ declaration of interests form. The form asks authors to disclose relevant interests, the role of funding bodies and how the interests relate to the article topic.

When submitting an editorial, clinical review, practice article or state of the art review:

  1. 1. All authors should download and complete the form.
  2. 2. The corresponding author should upload the completed forms as supplementary files when submitting the paper. If the paper is accepted for publication, these forms will either be published with the article or will need to be made available by the corresponding authors on request.
  3. 3. The corresponding author should insert within their manuscript a summary statement derived from the information provided in the forms—see below. This will be included in the published article.
    “I/We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: [list them or state that you have none].”

Examples of different sorts of summary statements:

No competing interests
“We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare that we have no competing interests.”

Competing interests disclosed
“We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: AA has received speaker fees from BBB company. CC has received fees as an advisory board member for DDD company. EE’s institution receives funding from FFF company for a trial in which he is co-investigator.

Research papers

From July 2010, The BMJ (along with other journals that are members of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) has asked authors of research papers to use a revised version of the ICMJE’s unified disclosure form.

The unified form is intended to make life easier for authors, in that the same form can be completed for several journals. Each journal, will, however, integrate the form into its processes in different ways.

The form asks authors to disclose three types of information:

  1. Associations with commercial entities that provided support for the work reported in the submitted manuscript (the timeframe for disclosure in this section of the form is the life span of the work being reported).
  2. Associations with commercial entities that could be viewed as having an interest in the general area of the submitted manuscript (in the three years before submission of the manuscript).
  3. Non-financial associations that may be relevant or seen as relevant to the submitted manuscript.

When submitting a research paper:

  1. All authors must download and complete a copy of the disclosure form, which is available as a PDF at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf.
  2. They should keep a copy of the form and send a copy to their corresponding author.
  3. The corresponding author must insert within the submitted manuscript a summary statement derived from the information provided in the forms—see below. This will be included in the published article.
  4. After publication, the forms must be made available by the corresponding authors on request.

    The statement in the manuscript should take the following format:

    "Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work [or describe if any]; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years [or describe if any]; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work [or describe if any].”

    Below are some examples for different sorts of disclosures.

    No competing interests

    "All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work."

    Grant funding for research but no other competing interest

    "All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: all authors had financial support from ABC Company for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work."

    Mixed

    "All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; AB has received research grants and honorariums from XYZ company, BF has been paid for developing and delivering educational presentations for BBB foundation, DF does consultancy for HHH and VVV companies; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work."

    "All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: financial support for the submitted work from ABC Company; AB has received research grants and honorariums from XYZ company, BF has been paid for developing and delivering educational presentations for BBB Company, DF does consultancy of HHH and VVV companies; AB chairs the BAA guideline committee on disease Y, BF is a member of the Royal College of Physicians’ guideline committee on gastroenterology."

    Reviewers

    We also ask reviewers to provide statements of competing interests and we use these when assessing the value of peer review reports. We ask individual reviewers to provide a statement based on BMJ policy at the time they submit their review via our manuscript tracking system.

    BMJ

    You can find information about the competing interests of The BMJ's staff on their profile pages.