Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Conflicts of interest at science journals: Nature may publish a correction

from the Hindu:

Philip Campbell, the Editor-in-Chief of Nature has, however, indicated that if breach of the journal's policy were to be confirmed, the journal would publish a correction.

Correction? But can a mere publication of correction suffice to compel authors to come out openly?

In 2002 the Editor, Richard Smith of the British Medical Journal wrote in an editorial "... Several studies have shown that such conflicts are rarely declared in most journals — despite good evidence that most authors have them."

Readers' perception

Smith pointed out, "The problem with conflicts of interest is not declaring them."

But when authors do declare them it does no good either as revealed by a survey that BMJ undertook with its readers. It found that readers discounted heavily those studies that had conflict of interest.

So what should authors like Hwang do?

"... Integrity of a journal rests jointly on the ethical behaviour of authors and editors. ...

"How an editor is perceived to handle this responsibility has far-reaching effects on the trust of readers in a journal," noted Editor Martin J. Tobin in 2004 in an editorial in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


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