Competing interests policy
Declaration of all potential conflicts of interest is required by Copernicus Publications as this is an integral aspect of a transparent record of scientific work. Disclosure of relationships and interests provides a more complete picture of the research and prevents biased assessment of it. In addition, the disclosure of (potential) competing interest helps readers to form their own judgements of potential bias.
A conflict of interest occurs when professional conclusions regarding the complete and objective presentation of research are influenced or could be influenced by a secondary interest. Therefore, we require that our authors disclose such possible competing interests. Competing interests often arise with regard to financial matters. However, conflicts of interest can also be non-financial, professional, or personal and can exist in relation to institutions or individuals. Examples of possible competing interest that are directly or indirectly related to the research include (but are not limited to) the following:
- employment or consultancy;
- position on advisory board, government board, board of directors, or other type of management relationships;
- financial relationships, for example stock or share ownership or investment interest;
- intellectual property;
- holdings of relatives that may have financial interest in the work;
- acting as an expert witness;
- membership of lobbying or advocacy organizations;
- personal relationships with individuals involved in the publication process.
If there are no competing interests in their submitted manuscripts, authors should state so explicitly: "The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest." This statement should come prior to the acknowledgements.
If there are possible conflicts of interest, authors must state what competing interests are relevant to the submitted work: "Author A has received research funding from Company Y. Author B is a member of committee Z."
If some authors are members of the editorial board of the journal, a sentence should be included for the sake of transparency: "Some authors are members of the editorial board of journal X. The peer-review process was guided by an independent editor, and the authors have also no other competing interests to declare."
Editors and referees
A conflict of interest takes place when there is any interference with the objective decision making by an editor or objective peer review by the referee. Such secondary interests could be financial, personal, or in relation to any organization. If editors or referees encounter their own conflict of interest, they have to declare so and – if necessary – renounce their role in assessing the respective manuscript.
Reasons for editors and referees to recuse themselves from the peer-review process include (but are not limited to) the following:
- They currently work or have recently worked at the same institution or organization as an author.
- They are currently collaborating with an author or have done so recently.
- They have published with an author during the past 3 years.
- They currently hold or have recently held grants with an author.
- They have a personal relationship with an author that does not allow them to evaluate the manuscript objectively.
Where there is a strong case (e.g. in small fields of science) for editors to use a referee to whom one or more of these cases apply, the editors should aim to obtain an objective review. They should also secure at least one review from a fully independent referee.