Declaring interests and restoring trust in medicineBMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6236 (Published 06 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6236
- Carl Heneghan, professor,
- Margaret McCartney, honorary fellow
- Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
- Correspondence to: C Heneghan
There is a long history of individuals and organisations attempting to fix the biases that arise from conflicts of interests. Such conflicts contribute to a breakdown in research integrity1 and lead to more favourable outcomes for sponsors,2 the withholding of results,3 and an overall lack of trust in research.4
Journals disclose authors’ potential conflicts of interest to improve the objective assessment of research, increase its credibility, and make peer reviewers, editors, and readers aware of—and account for—the biases that conflicts induce. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) considers the purposeful failure to disclose conflicts of interest a form of misconduct. Whether disclosure influences peer reviewers’ assessment of the quality of submitted research is, however, unclear.
In a linked paper, John and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.l5896) tackled this issue by asking whether revealing authors’ conflicts at peer review affects the quality rating of submitted manuscripts.5 From a …