JERHRE's Conflict of Interest Policy
There is increasing concern within and outside the research community with matters related to conflict of interest and commitment. JERHRE shares those concerns, and is committed to maintaining a set of policies and procedures that serve our authors, readers, and the integrity of science. The policy and procedures described below seek to balance the very real and perceived concerns with conflict of interest in research with a desire not to impede legitimate research or deter submissions to the journal. Hence, the underlying premise guiding this policy is to assess conflicts in order to maximize the benefits of a robust scientific enterprise while minimizing adverse effects. We view the policy and procedures as a living document, subject to revision as circumstances may warrant.
I. Reporting Conflicts of Interest (COI)--Authors
For manuscripts submitted to JERHRE, a conflict of interest is defined as a situation(s) in which personal or other interests may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an author's professional judgment in designing, conducting, evaluating or reporting research results. Such conflict could improperly affect the choice of research protocol, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, the use of certain statistical methods, the recruitment of research subjects, or the communication of results. Such conflicts do not inevitably taint the research process (e.g., result in withholding information, introduce bias into the results). However, the choices that one makes when in such situations, and how those choices affect the integrity of the research and the impact on public trust, may raise significant ethical concerns.
1a. All authors are required to declare any relationship that could reasonably be viewed as a possible COI. While financial relationships most frequently raise questions about COI, other factors may also compromise a researcher's judgment, independence, or the perception of such in the eyes of others. This may include intellectual bias arising from a strong ideological commitment or moral position. In some instances, a desire for professional recognition from one's peers might give rise to COI.
Relationships that would trigger a disclosure and review and that should be included in authors' COI statements to the journal include the following:
i. Financial relationships (e.g., employment, consulting, management position, etc.) with commercial entities, governmental agencies, or advocacy organizations that directly supported (e.g., major funding, donation of essential resources, etc.) the work described in the submitted manuscript, as well as with those entities that could be seen as having a financial interest in the outcomes of the research. Irrespective of whether payment was made to the author or to someone else, such financial relationships should be disclosed.
ii. Non-financial relationships (e.g., officer in an advocacy organization having an interest in the reported research, familial connections, etc.) that may affect, or could be viewed by others as affecting, the conduct or results of the research reported in the manuscript.
Such relationships must be reported from 3 years prior to the initiation of the research through the publication of the manuscript. This includes relationships that terminated prior to the conduct of the research itself as well as pending employment or other activities with an organization described above at the time of manuscript development and submission. If the author believes that the relationship was such that it exerted no influence on the conduct of the research, the reasons for that belief should be stated.
JERHRE provides a Disclosure Checklist and Form [see below] to authors for reporting any relevant relationships. The form can be downloaded and may be submitted with the manuscript to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Joan Sieber, 2060 Quail Canyon Court, Hayward, CA 94542. It is the responsibility of the first or corresponding author to ensure that each author is familiar with JERHRE's COI policy, has considered whether he or she has a possible COI, and if so, has filed a COI statement with the editor. Any COI declarations must be filed at the time of submission of the article manuscript. Authors who have no COI should so state in the letter accompanying submission of the manuscript.
COI disclosures will be reviewed by the editor, in consultation with 3 editorial board members serving as the COI committee, to evaluate the stated/ likely/potential effect of any disclosed COI on the integrity of the submission. The editor may contact the submitting author for additional information. For example, the editor may request that author(s) whose work was funded by an agency or entity with a proprietary or financial interest in the outcome of research provide additional information, such as a copy of the research plan and/or contracts associated with project specific studies before accepting such studies for publication. If a review is undertaken by the COI Committee, it will be completed as soon as possible, through email consultation with the committee.
II. Reporting COI Disclosures--JERHRE
iia. At the discretion of the editor, authors will be asked to release for publication whatever part of the disclosure the editor believes to be material to readers' assessment of the quality and integrity of the article. ("Article" includes any type of submission to the journal intended for publication, e.g., research paper, review essay, education manuscript, editorial, letter.) The reported disclosure for each author will be placed immediately below the Acknowledgements section of the article. The editor reserves the right to request updated COI information prior to publication.
iib. All author declarations will be kept on file by the editor for no less than seven years from the point of their submission. If an inquiry or allegation of unreported COI emerges after an article's publication, the editor will convene a subcommittee of the Editorial Board to consider the allegation and determine whether the allegation has merit. The editor may dismiss the allegation without comment, report the allegation and the subcommittee's findings, and/or forward the allegation to the appropriate authorities for further investigation.
iic. If the allegation(s) is forwarded for further consideration, the editor will make the relevant material available to properly authorized institutions or individuals on a need-to-know basis for determining whether further inquiry or investigation may be warranted and, if so, as evidence for use in any related proceedings.
iid. If appropriate authorities launch an inquiry regarding a possible COI that was not originally reported or reported improperly by any author of a paper and if a long delay is anticipated before the completion of the inquiry, JERHRE may publish an "expression of concern," indicating that the journal has reason to believe that a COI could have affected the article's reported research and findings and that an inquiry is being conducted by appropriate authorities.
IIe. If the aforementioned inquiry/investigation finds that an unreported COI improperly affected the research and findings reported in the article, the editor, in consultation with JERHRE's Editorial Board as appropriate, may decide that the paper should be retracted, in which case the retraction, including a complete citation to the original article and an explanation of why the article is being retracted, would be published in the next issue of JERHRE.
DISCLOSURE CHECK LIST AND FORM
RELATIONSHIPS THAT COULD CREATE THE APPEARANCE OF COI
A conflict of interest (COI), or circumstances that could give the appearance of a COI, need not disqualify an article from being published. Rather, it must be disclosed so that JERHRE's readership is aware of this factor. It is essential that all JERHRE authors read and understand JERHRE's COI policy and declare any such COI on the following form, which is to be transmitted to the Editor-in-Chief at the time the manuscript is submitted. Failure to disclose such COI can lead to untoward consequences as stated in JERHRE's COI policy.
JERHRE cannot evaluate, on the basis of a standard review of your manuscript, whether a declared perceived COI in fact resulted in bias of findings. JERHRE requires that authors submit only research that they believe is free from bias. When there exist circumstances that have the appearance of compromising authors' judgment or integrity, in addition to reporting that circumstance to the editor, authors must explain why the perceived COI did not compromise of their judgment or integrity in their letter accompanying their submission.
The checklist below should be filled out and sent to the editor by each author who has a COI or if there are circumstances that could give the appearance of a COI. It is better to declare and explain a possible COI than to err in the other direction. It is left to the discretion of the editor whether a declared COI will be published as part of the article. If none of the authors have a COI or circumstance that could give the appearance of a COI, please so state in your letter accompanying your manuscript.
1. Relationships with an organization (other than the author's stated principal place of employment) that directly supported the work described in the manuscript:
Kind of relationship
- Employment [self and spouse, or just self?]
- Managerial position (e.g., Board of Directors)
- Support by the same sponsor of other(s) of my projects
- Stock ownership in the supporting company. Please state dollar amount.
- Other (please specify)
Kind of support:
- Major financial funding
- Donation of essential resources
- Other (please specify)
2. Non-financial relationships that may affect, or could be viewed by others as affecting, the conduct or results of the research reported in the manuscript.
Kind of relationship:
- Member or officer in an advocacy organization having an interest in the research
- Familial connections
- Collegial or professional connections
- Other (please specify)
Because of the idiosyncratic kinds of relationships that might lead to the perception of a COI, authors are required to spell out in significant detail, in the letter accompanying their manuscript, the nature of the relationship, when it occurred or is occurring, what kinds of possibly conflicting interests might be involved, and what steps were taken to ensure that this did not bias the work. The following are examples of relevant declarations. In any such case, the author should state the amount or describe the nature of what was received, and name and describe the persons or organizations involved.
"I have a business on the side and belong to a trade association for that business which commissioned me to write this review."
"The organization which paid me (or which enabled me to get this grant) retained the right to read and suggest revisions to the manuscript as it was being prepared."
"I was paid $10,000 by a commercial funder to do the work on which this paper is based."
"My commercial funder gave a gift of significant equipment to my lab."
"I received a consulting fee/ stock options/ a substantial personal present from the funder."
"I received a consulting fee which was made payable to my family trust." "…my daughter."
"I serve as an expert witness in court in cases involving the phenomenon studied in this research. I did (or did not) work on a case for this client. My findings would increase my perceived value as an expert witness."
"I am a junior member of the laboratory that has published many results related to mine, that its critics typically have not been able to replicate."
"My brother owns the biotech firm that will benefit from the results I have found in this research."
"I serve on a committee of the organization that will benefit from the results of this study."
Briefly describe your relevant relationship in your cover letter.