What is a conflict of interest?

Understand what a conflict of interest is, and get to know some examples

A conflict of interest can also be known as ‘competing interest’. A conflict of interest can occur when you, or your employer, or sponsor have a financial, commercial, legal, or professional relationship with other organizations, or with the people working with them, that could influence your research.

When you submit your paper to a journal, full disclosure is required. The journal editor will firstly use this information to inform their editorial decisions. Then they will publish such disclosures to assist readers in evaluating the article. Or, the editor may instead decide not to publish your article on the basis of any declared conflict of interest.

You can declare the conflict of interest in your cover letter or on the manuscript submission form in the journal’s online peer-review system.

Conflict of interests can be financial or non-financial in nature. To maintain transparency, any associations which can be perceived by others as a conflict of interest must also be declared.

What are the benefits of open access publishing?

There’s increasing pressure on researchers to show the societal impact of their research. Open access can help your work reach new readers, beyond those with easy access to a research library.

Some examples of financial conflicts of interests include:

  • Employment or voluntary involvement

  • Collaborations with advocacy groups relating to the content of the article

  • Grants from an entity, paid to the author or organization

  • Personal fees received by the authors as honoraria, royalties, consulting fees, lecture fees, or testimonies

  • Patents held or pending by the authors, their institutions, funding organizations, or licensed to an entity, whether earning royalties or not

  • Royalties being received by the authors or their institutions

  • Stock or share ownership

  • Benefits related to the development of products as an outcome of the work

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Examples of non-financial conflicts of interests:

  • Receipt of drugs, specialist equipment, tools, computer programs, or digital applications

  • Access to data repositories, archival resources, museum collections, by an entity that might benefit, or be at a disadvantage financially or reputationally from the published findings

  • Holding a position on the boards of industry bodies or private companies that might benefit, or be at a disadvantage financially or reputationally from the published findings

  • Writing assistance or administrative support from a person or organization that might benefit, or be at a disadvantage from the published findings

  • Personal, political, religious, ideological, academic and intellectual competing interests which are perceived to be relevant to the published content

  • Involvement in legal action related to the work

Important: if there are no competing interests to declare, authors should include a statement to the article to confirm that there are no relevant financial or non-financial competing interests to report.

Sponsorship of clinical trials

Authors employed by pharmaceutical companies or other organizations which sponsor clinical trials must declare this as a competing interest.

Authors should adhere to the Good Publication Practice guidelines for pharmaceutical companies (GPP3), which provides guidance to ensure responsible and ethical standards are maintained.

Taylor & Francis journals will not publish articles advertising commercial products.

Disclosure statement

You should also include a relevant disclosure statement with the text of your article. You can do this in conjunction with any acknowledgments and details of funders.

Conflict of interest: sample disclosure statements

In accordance with Taylor & Francis policy and my ethical obligation as a researcher, I am reporting that I [have a financial and/or business interests in] [am a consultant to] [receive funding from] (delete as appropriate) a company that may be affected by the research reported in the enclosed paper. I have disclosed those interests fully to Taylor & Francis, and I have in place an approved plan for managing any potential conflicts arising from [that involvement].

This research is sponsored by [company A] and may lead to the development of products which may be licensed to [company B], in which I have a business and/or financial interest. I have disclosed those interests fully to Taylor & Francis, and have in place an approved plan for managing any potential conflicts arising from this arrangement.

If there is no disclosure, we will then publish the following statement: “No potential competing interest was reported by the author(s).

Did you know that competing interest declarations, acknowledgments and notes on contributors are all openly available to view on all articles on Taylor & Francis Online? This ensures transparency of key information and helps potential readers to evaluate articles more easily.