RESEARCH ETHICS AND POLICIES
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
All potential conflicts of interest (competing interests) that could have a direct or indirect influence on the work must be disclosed by the authors. Even if an author does not have a conflict, disclosing affiliations and interests allows for a more comprehensive and open approach, which leads to a more accurate and objective evaluation of the work. Conflicts of interest, whether genuine or imagined, are a perspective to which the readers are entitled.
The publication of a conflict statement in the article itself, as well as the submission of the conflict disclosure form, is required for all types of papers. It is not necessarily the case that a monetary relationship with examination support or funding for counseling work is inappropriate. Even if the authors do not have any conflict of interest, they still need to provide a confirmation statement in their manuscripts, i.e., “The author(s) confirm(s) that there is no conflict of interest related to the manuscript.”
The following are some examples of potential conflicts of interest that are directly or indirectly related to the research:
Financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):
- Type of support/grant number
- Institutional Conflicts of Interest
- Funds received by the author
- Funds received by the institution
- Travel allowances for the research
- Funds received for article preparation and reviewing
- Funds for conducting review activities
- Support provided for article writing assistance, for drugs, equipment, etc
- Paid lectures
- Pending fund or grant
Financial conflicts of interest can be personal as well as institutional. Personal conflict of interest occurs when a contributor involved in the publication process either receives an amount of money or expects to receive some financial help (including any other financial benefits such as patents or stocks, gifts or services) that may impact the work related to a specific publication. More importantly, in academic research, such financial relationships can lead to institutional conflicts of interest (COIs) because the economic interests of the institution or institutional representatives may unsuitably affect the decision-making process.
An institutional conflict of interest arises in a situation when financial interests of an institution or any institutional official (e.g., investments held by the university in a company) have the potential to unduly influence the research conducted by its employees or students, or pose an unacceptable risk to human subjects. Such conflicts usually arise in a state of affairs where a research project directly offers assistance or a benefit to an external entity via evaluation, validation, trial or test of an invention, product, drug, service or technology, and the institution holds a financial interest with the external entity. Such financial interests incorporate, but are not limited to, receipt of licensing payments or royalties from the external entity, or ownership interest with the external entity. When human subjects are involved in any research project, and the institution supports such a financial interest, the conflict of interest is speculated to be unreasonable.
Non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):
In addition, interests other than monetary and any funding (non-financial interests) should be declared if they are relevant to readers. Personal relationships or conflicting interests directly or indirectly related to research, as well as professional interests or personal opinions that may impact your research, are examples of these.
Intellectual property, in basic terms, refers to any intangible property that is the result of creativity, such as patents, copyrights, etc. Similarly, this section seeks to know about copyright and patent (licensed patent, pending or issued) and any payment received for intellectual property, such as:
- Licensed Patent
- Issued Patent
- Pending Patent
All conflict of interest disclosure forms are collected by the corresponding author. It is sufficient for the corresponding author to sign the disclosure form on behalf of all authors in author collaborations when legal agreements for representation allow it. The templates of the form can be found here.
Before the reference list, the corresponding author will include a summary statement in the text of the article that reflects what is reported in the potential conflict of interest disclosure form (s). Author(s) may declare(s) names of reviewers who they think might have a potential conflict of interest; therefore, Editorial Office could avoid inviting such reviewers for an unbiased opinion.
UNDISCLOSED CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Undisclosed conflict of interest cases before or after the publication of an article are dealt with as per the guidelines of COPE.
- Undisclosed conflict of interest in a submitted article (View COPE guidelines)
- Undisclosed conflict of interest in a published article (View COPE guidelines)
For more information on COIs, see the guidance from the ICMJE.
Bentham Open tries to conduct a transparent peer-review process with the help of the reviewers who do not have any conflict of interest with the authors. In this connection, reviewers who belong to the same institute or countries as authors are not invited to review manuscripts. However, it is not possible for the Editorial Office to be aware of all competing interests; therefore, it is expected from authors to submit:
- List of reviewers who they think have a conflict of interest to ensure a transparent and unbiased review process.
The Editorial Office expects reviewers:
- Not to accept manuscript review requests if they have any potential conflict of interest and inform the Editorial Office accordingly.
- To decline review requests if they have recently published or submitted an article with any of the authors listed in the manuscript.
- To inform the Editorial Office if they have any personal relationship with the authors or work in the same institutes as of authors, which could affect the review transparency.
- To abstain from reviewing and informing the Editorial Office/Editor-in-Chief/Handling Editors about any scientific misconduct or fraud, plagiarism, conflict of interest, or any other unethical behavior related to the manuscript, which they found while reviewing it.
During the submission of review comments, reviewers are asked to reconfirm that they do not have any conflict of interest related to the article. After confirming the below statement, they can submit their comments.
“I hereby confirm that I don’t have any conflict of interest related to the manuscript.”
If, however, there are still any remaining interests, then reviewers must mention those in the ‘Confidential’ section of the review form.
Reviewers are not encouraged to contact authors directly regarding any of their conflicts of interest. Peer reviewers should follow journals’ policies in situations they consider to represent a conflict to reviewing.
UNDISCLOSED CONFLICT OF INTEREST
If reviewers intentionally undisclosed any conflict of interest, then they will be blacklisted for any future peer reviewing activity of the journal.
The Editorial Office always ensures that an author, if added after peer review activity of a manuscript, is not part of the reviewers’ list who have conducted a peer review of the same manuscript.
Editors must not review submitted manuscripts if they have any personal, professional or financial involvement/conflict of interest with the authors of the manuscript. Every participant involved in the peer review process, including editorial board members, reviewers, and editors, must declare any potential conflicts of interest to ensure a transparent and unbiased review activity.
Editors-in-Chief or Editors who are responsible for the initial and final decision should recuse themselves to review or take decisions on any manuscript that is written by authors affiliated to the same institute as of editor, or if they have been a family member, competitor, collaborator, or have published any manuscript in last 3 years with the authors associated with the manuscript. They can however nominate someone else on the Board who could provide a neutral opinion on the manuscript.
Manuscripts submission by an Editor/Editor-in-Chief
The initial and final decision on the manuscripts submitted by an Editor/Editor-in-Chief will be taken by any other member of the Board. The Editorial Office will identify members who do not have any potential conflict of interest with the Editor or Editor-in-Chief.
All individuals listed as authors must have contributed substantially to the design, performance, analysis, or reporting of the work and are required to indicate their specific contribution. Anyone (individual/company/institution) who has substantially contributed to the study for important intellectual content, or was involved in the in drafting or revising the manuscript must also be acknowledged.
Guest or honorary authorship based solely on position (e.g. research supervisor, departmental head) is discouraged.
Consent for Publication:
If the manuscript has an individuals’ data, such as personal detail, audio-video material etc., consent should be obtained from that individual.
All such case reports should be followed by a proper consent prior to publishing.
A specific declaration of such approval and consent-to-disclose form must be made in the copyright letter and in a stand-alone paragraph at the end of the article especially in the case of human studies where inclusion of a statement regarding obtaining the written informed consent from each subject or subject's guardian is a must. The original should be retained by the guarantor or corresponding author. Editors may request to provide the original forms by fax or email.