Medical Journals Strengthen Ethics Requirements

Article excerpt


Editors of twelve medical journals announced this fall new ethics guidelines that, among other measures, will require authors of published articles, including editorials and review articles, to disclose all financial and personal relationships that "could be viewed as presenting a potential conflict of interest."

Revisions to the ethics section of a widely used biomedical publishing manual on which the journals rely also specify that researchers should avoid agreements with sponsors that may limit their ability to access, analyze, or publish data, and that they must disclose any role that sponsors have in designing studies, collecting or interpreting data, writing reports, or deciding when to publish results. In addition, the editors will not accept manuscripts based on studies conducted under conditions allowing sponsors solely to control or withhold publication of data. The group includes editors of some of the most prestigious medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Lancet.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the ability of corporate sponsors to suppress research results that cast their products in an unfavorable light and about the objectivity of researchers being compromised by their financial involvement with the companies that sponsor research. …