Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let me count the ways

Ethics Journal Fixing Disclosure Process to Catch More Conflicts

In one issue of the American Journal of Bioethics, at least six authors had conflicts of interest that went undisclosed.

The journal says that five others never responded to requests for their potential conflicts of interest for articles in that same November 2010 issue.

How did that happen?

The American Journal of Bioethics’ co-editor-in-chief, David Magnus from Stanford University, told me in an email that the omissions from the November 2010 edition happened three different ways. He said the journal knows it missed some conflicts, but that it is working on a way to prevent that in the future. He explained:

"The corrections fall into three categories. In one case, someone had signed our form indicating no conflict of interest, but had also apparently turned in a separate sheet with relevant info that was inadvertently ignored.

In addition, though our instructions to authors on the COI forms ask for the corresponding authors to obtain all disclosures from all authors, it is possible that a lead author failed to do that and merely disclosed their own. We have made some changes to our procedures to ensure that our instructions are actually followed.

Third, some authors filled out forms stating that they had no COI, when on reflection, and given an opportunity to correct the record, they provided information that our COI committee determined constituted a COI.

All information collected was turned over to our COI committee who determined what should be disclosed and a correction was issued."


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