Intended for healthcare professionals


Competing interests in journal editors

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 26 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4819
  1. Virginia Barbour, advisor
  1. Library and Office of Research Ethics and Integrity, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4059, Australia
  1. ginny.barbour{at}

Financial conflicts are common, and must be declared and managed

Individuals are almost incapable of determining whether their own conflicts of interest or competing interests might affect their judgment. To mitigate bias in published work (or the perception of bias in that work), journals are increasingly tightening their requirements for authors and reviewers to declare and publish competing interests. The study by Liu and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.j4619)1 opens up a new front in the debate—reporting payments by drug and device companies to US doctors who are also editors of academic journals.

Everyone has competing interests, or at least “interests” of some sort. The professional interests of experts in any specialty are what make them qualified to write for, review for, or edit academic journals. Determining when non-financial competing interests become problematic is not trivial. Financial competing interests are arguably more straightforward. Journals rightly expect both authors and reviewers to declare their financial interests in full before contributing, and the editors may decline to commission or publish contributions by authors with relevant …

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