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Nature to Seek Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest from Authors

NEW YORK, Aug. 23 – The journal Nature said on Thursday that it will institute a new policy asking authors to disclose any financial conflicts of interest relevant to the research they submitted for publication. 

Beginning on Oct. 1, the journal's eight distinct titles will ask contributors to declare any "significant" sources of funding, current or anticipated employers, or personal or professional financial interests--including consulting fees and ownership in company stock--that may affect the research.

In an editorial in the Aug. 23 issue of journal, editor Philip Campbell described "significant" financial interest as “any undeclared competing financial interests that could embarrass you were they to become publicly known after your work was published.”

Currently, Nature gives authors the option of disclosing their sources of funding. The new policy falls in line with similar practices at other peer-reviewed basic-science journals, including Science , which makes it a condition of publication for authors to disclose funding sources and financial conflicts of interests. However, Science does not publish as a matter of policy any personal financial interests an author may have.

But Nature 's new policy will provide this information, which the journal said will allow its readers to judge for themselves whether a conflict of interest exists. Authors, for their part, may opt not to disclose details of their financial interests, but a statement accompanying the published article will reflect that decision.

In the 1980s, medical journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine began instituting policies requiring authors to disclose financial conflicts of interests, which industry watchers saw as acknowledgement of encroaching commercial interest in biomedical research.

The current policy at The New England Journal of Medicine gives editors discretion to decide whether to disclose the information to readers.

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