The trust of the medical community in particular and the wider public in general in the veracity of medical research requires transparency and clear knowledge that the information published is free of any overt or covert bias and that those that conducted the study were free of any conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of interest exist when the “author” of the manuscript, the author’s institution or the article “reviewer” has personal interests that may influence the results of the scientific work. Conflicts of interest can also exist even if the “author” or “reviewer” does not think that that such conflicts of interest will affect their scientific judgment.
Financial relations are the main reason for conflicts of interest in medical research. In this group one can include employer-employee relations, particularly in the case of pharmaceutical or high-tech companies, ownership of stock or securities of the commercial company that has an interest in the research results, receipt of a “consulting fee” or a financial reward for lectures commissioned on behalf of the same commercial entity that is involved in the research, etc.
Potential conflicts of interest can also be present in other circumstances, including personal relations with other researchers, academic competition and strong emotional involvement in the research.
Lack of honesty and transparency in medical information published will necessarily create lack of trust in researchers, the publication and medicine in general.
Therefore, every researcher publishing a medical manuscript must disclose fully and honestly all possible conflicts of interest that may affect his judgment. This guideline also applies to reviewers of medical manuscripts and to writers of editorials in medical journals.