Competing Interests/ Conflict of Interest:

A situation in which the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible. A conflict of interest occurs when an entity or individual becomes unreliable because of a clash between personal (or self-serving) interests and professional duties or responsibilities. Such a conflict occurs when a company or person has a vested interest such as money, status, knowledge, relationships, or reputation which puts into question whether their actions, judgment, or decision-making can be unbiased (Adopted from TROY SEGAL, Investopedia, 24 March 2022).

  • A conflict of interest occurs when a person’s or entity’s vested interests raise a question of whether their actions, judgment, and/or decision-making can be unbiased.
  • In business, a conflict of interest arises when a person chooses personal gain over duties to their employer, or to an organization in which they are a stakeholder or exploits their position for personal gain in some way.
  • Conflicts of interest often have legal ramifications.

A conflict of interest can occur when author, or employer, or sponsor have a financial, commercial, legal, or professional relationship with other organizations, or with the people working with them, that could influence the research.

  1. Financial Conflict of Interest:
    • Funding: Research support (including salaries, grants, equipment, supplies, and any other expenses) by organizations/ institutes/companies/groups/agencies that may gain or lose financially through this publication. A specific role for the funder in the conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the article, should be disclosed.
    • Employment: Recent (while engaged in the research project), present or anticipated employment by any organization that may gain or lose financially through this publication. This includes multiple affiliations (if applicable).
    • Financial interests: Stocks or shares in companies (including holdings of spouse and/or children) that may gain or lose financially through publication of the article; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration from organizations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications whose value may be affected by publication of this article.

Examples of financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):

    • 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.
  1. Non-Financial Competing Interests:
    Authors and referees should declare any unpaid roles or relationships that might have a bearing on the publication process. Examples of non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):

    • 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.
    • Unpaid membership in a government or non-governmental organization.
    • Unpaid membership in an advocacy or lobbying organization.
    • Unpaid advisory position in a commercial organization.
    • Writing or consulting for an educational company.
    • Acting as an expert witness.

Application to Authors:
Authors, reviewers, and editors have a duty to report potential conflicts of interest. In the case of authors, declare anything that might affect their research or affect the review process or publication of their article. If the author is unsure whether this is a conflict of interest, always contact the editor or publisher before submitting.

Authors or corresponding authors can declare the conflict of interest (It must be no conflicts of interest to disclose) in the cover letter or on the article during the submission of the article to the journal for peer review process. The author should provide background on any financial support for the research from third parties and disclose any other potential conflicts of interest.

If you are concerned that an editor or reviewer handling a submission may have a conflict of interest, please notify the journal publisher.

Feasible conflicts of interest comprise:

  • A prior relationship between author and editor.
  • A financial or personal interest in the outcomes of the research.
  • Undisclosed financial support for the research by an interested third party.
  • A financial or personal interest in the suppression of the research.
  • A pending patent.

For peer-reviewed contributions, author declarations are fully disclosed to the peer reviewers. Authors opting for double-blind peer review should provide their minimal statement (either “The authors declare the existence of a financial/non-financial competing interest” OR “The authors declare no competing interests”) in the submission system and a complete statement of disclosure in their cover letter.

In addition to any declarations in submission systems, all authors regardless of peer review model are required to include a statement at the end of their published article to declare whether they have any competing interests. The published article indicates the authors’ response using one of the following standard sentences:

  • The authors declare the following competing interests:
  • The authors declare no competing interests.

If authors may be bound by confidentiality agreements. In such cases, in place of itemized disclosures, we require authors to state: “The authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing their competing interests in this work.”

Application to Referees/Reviewers:
The peer-reviewers should exclude themselves in cases where there is a significant conflict of interest, financial or otherwise. The peer-reviewers should inform to the editors of any related conflict of interests. Editors will consider these statements when weighing reviewers’ recommendations.

Application to Editors/External Editors/Members:
The editors/members are required to declare to their employer any conflict of interests, financial or otherwise that might influence, or be perceived to influence, their editorial practices. It is essential that editors/members should declare any competing interests and may be excluded from the peer review process if a competing interest exists. In addition, Editors/members should exclude themselves from handling articles in cases where there is a competing interest. This may include, but is not limited to, having previously published with one or more of the authors, and sharing the same institution as one or more of the authors.

Summary of the Requirement:
The above should be summarized in a statement and included in a section entitled “Declarations” before the reference list. Other declarations include Funding, Conflicts of interest/competing interests, Ethics approval, Consent, Data and/or Code availability and Authors’ contribution statements. 
When all authors have the same (or no) conflicts and/or funding it is sufficient to use one blanket statement.

Provide “Funding” as a heading (see template)
Partial financial support was received from [……….]
The research leading to these results received funding from […] under Grant Agreement No [……….]
This study was funded by [……….]
This work was supported by [……….] (Grant numbers [……….] and [……….]

In case of no funding:
The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.
No funding was received to assist with the preparation of the article.
No funding was received for conducting this study.
No funds, grants, or other support was received.

Provide “Conflicts of Interest/Competing Interests” as a header (see template)
Financial Interests: Author A has received research support from Company A. Author B has received a speaker honorarium from Company Wand owns stock in Company X. Author C is consultant to company Y.

Non-Financial Interests: Author C is an unpaid member of committee Z.

Financial Interests: The authors declare they have no financial interests.

Non-Financial Interests: Author A is on the board of directors of Y and receives no compensation as member of the board of directors.

Financial Interests: Author A received a speaking fee from Y for Z. Author B receives a salary from association X. X where s/he is the Executive Director.

Non-Financial Interests: None.

Financial Interests: Author A and B declare they have no financial interests. Author C has received speaker and consultant honoraria from Company M and Company N. Dr. C has received a speaker honorarium and research funding from Company M and Company O. Author D has received travel support from Company O.

Non-Financial Interests: Author D has served on advisory boards for Company M, Company N and Company O.

When authors have nothing to declare the following statement may be used:
The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.
All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in the article.
The authors have no financial or proprietary interests in any material discussed in this article.

Authors are responsible for the correctness of the statements provided above in the article.