A Declaration of Conflicting Interests policy refers to a formal policy a journal may have to require a conflict of interest statement or conflict of interest disclosure from a submitting or publishing author.
The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) states in its Guidelines on Good Publication Practice (2003) that:
‘Conflicts of interest arise when authors, reviewers, or editors have interests that are not fully apparent and that may influence their judgments on what is published. They have been described as those which, when revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived.’
Many scholars, researchers and professionals may have potential conflicts of interest, that could have an effect on – or could be seen to – have an effect on their research. As a result, some journals require a formal declaration of conflicting interests enabling a statement to be carried within the paginated published article.
A potential conflicting interest might arise from relationships, allegiances or hostilities to particular groups, organizations or interests, which may influence excessively one’s judgments or actions. The issue is particularly sensitive when such interests are private and/or may result in personal gain.
Articles will be evaluated fairly and will not necessarily be rejected when any competing interests are declared.
Examples of conflicts of interest might include the following, although it is not an exhaustive list:
If there are other interests which the reasonable reader might feel has affected your research you may also wish to declare them.
*Please note that it is not expected that details of financial arrangements be disclosed when a competing interest is declared.
Author obligations regarding conflicting interests
In your Journal Publishing Contributor Agreement you will be asked to certify that:
How do I check the Manuscript Submission Guidelines to see if the journal to which I am submitting or publishing requires a declaration?
Please refer to the Manuscript Submission Guidelines on the journals page to check the policy of the journal in which you are submitting or publishing to ensure you comply with any specific requirements needed.
Editor obligations regarding conflicting interests
The same obligations equally apply to editors or guest editors writing an editorial that will be published in the journal.
How do I make a declaration?
If you are submitting to or publishing your article in a journal which requires you to make a Declaration of Conflicting Interests, please include such a declaration at the end of your manuscript after any Acknowledgements and prior to the Funding Acknowledgement, Notes (if relevant) and References, under the heading 'Declaration of Conflicting Interest'. If no conflict exists, please state that:
'The Author(s) declare(s) that there is no conflict of interest'.
*Please note, a Conflict of Interest Statement will not appear in journals that do not require a declaration of conflicting interests. Where a declaration is required the disclosure information must be specific and include any financial relationship that all authors of the article has with any sponsoring organization and the for-profit interests the organization represents, and with any for-profit product discussed or implied in the text of the article.
You may find the following useful resources to refer to for more information on Conflict of Interest policies, existing codes of practices and more general good practice in relation to journal publication ethics:
View the Guidelines published on good publication and the Code of Conduct by the Committee of Publication Ethics (COPE).
View the guidelines published by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
View a Common Standard for Conflict of Interest Disclosure published by Center for Science in the Public Interest.