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ResourcesResearch IntegrityUndisclosed conflicts of interest usually lead to corrections – but for some journals, that’s not enough – Retraction Watch (Victoria Stern | January 2016)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Undisclosed conflicts of interest usually lead to corrections – but for some journals, that’s not enough – Retraction Watch (Victoria Stern | January 2016)

 


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Correctly identifying whether you have a Conflicts of interest in your research is not always easy. But failing to identify a conflict can undermine the credibility of work and have serious impacts on the reputation and careers of entire research teams. It can be useful to approach situations and ask yourself “could I be perceived to have a conflict” and if you answer that question in the affirmative manage the situation as though there is a conflict.

When authors are faced with filling out a journal’s conflict of interest form, deciding what qualifies as a relevant conflict can be tricky. When such omissions come to light, only rarely do they result in retractions – and certainly not author bans. But there are exceptions.
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In October, the journal Chest retracted a 2015 review article exploring how mechanical ventilation can be used most effectively to manage acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) after finding that the authors failed “to disclose all relevant conflicts of interest.” What’s more, the journal initially planned to ban the two authors with undisclosed conflicts from submitting papers to the journal for three years, but ultimately decided against it.
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The Committee on Publication Ethics says that retractions may be warranted in cases of undisclosed conflicts of interest, but in our experience, most notices that cite that reason mention other problems with the paper, as well. Not this case – here, the only thing that seemed wrong with the paper was the authors’ failure to mention their ties to a ventilator company. The authors requested a correction – the usual fix, one accepted by the other journals they contacted – but to Chest, that wasn’t enough.
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