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Requirements for Authors 

Requirements for Authors

Ethical and Legal Considerations

Annette Flanagin

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PRINTED FROM AMA MANUAL OF STYLE ONLINE ( © American Medical Association, 2009. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the license agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in AMA Manual of Style Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy). 

Subscriber: null; date: 25 October 2016

Requirements for Authors

Authors should disclose all relevant conflicts of interest in their work at the time of manuscript submission either in the manuscript (if so required by the journal) or in a cover letter to the editor or on the journal’s disclosure form (if the journal uses one). Journals should define conflicts of interest and the types of disclosures required (eg, all types of conflicts of interest or only financial interests). For example, JAMA requires all relevant financial disclosures of each author and coauthor to be included in the Acknowledgment section of the manuscript and to be noted in the “Financial Disclosure” section of the authorship form that each author is required to complete and sign.20 The Archives of Dermatology requires authors to indicate their conflicts of interest, both financial and nonfinancial, on the manuscript’s title page.21 Both journals describe these policies in their instructions for authors and in the online manuscript submission forms. Since these disclosures are part of the manuscript, peer reviewers will see these when they review for JAMA and the Archives of Dermatology.

Some journals require authors to provide disclosure statements in a cover letter or journal disclosure form and do not share these disclosures with peer reviewers, unless the journal routinely shares author correspondence and submission forms with peer reviewers. Whether a journal requires complete disclosure of financial conflicts of interest or both financial and nonfinancial conflicts of interest and whether the disclosures are to be nonconfidential and included in the manuscript or confidential and listed only in documents and communications not shared with peer reviewers, these policies should be made clear to all prospective authors and reviewers and be publicly available in easily accessible instructions for authors. However, if a manuscript is accepted, whether the journal’s disclosure policy is nonconfidential or confidential during the review process, the author’s relevant conflicts of interest should be published.

JAMA and the Archives Journals also require all authors to report detailed information regarding all financial and material support for the research and work, including but not limited to grant support, funding sources, and provision of equipment and supplies (see also 5.5.2, Reporting Funding and Other Support). For JAMA, each author also is required to sign and submit the following financial disclosure statement in the authorship form:

I certify that all my affiliations or financial involvement, within the past 5 years and foreseeable future (eg, employment, consultancies, honoraria, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, grants or patents received or pending, royalties) with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript are completely disclosed in the Acknowledgment section of The manuscript.

JAMA authors are expected to provide detailed information about any relevant financial interests or financial conflicts within the past 5 years and for the foreseeable future, particularly those present at the time the research was conducted and up to the time of publication, as well as other financial interests, such as relevant filed or pending patents or patent applications in preparation, that represent potential future financial gain.4 This includes financial involvement with a product or service that is in direct competition with a product or service described in the manuscript. Although many universities and other institutions and organizations have established policies and thresholds for reporting financial interests and other conflicts of interest, JAMA and the Archives Journals require complete disclosure of all relevant financial relationships and potential financial conflicts of interest, regardless of amount or value. If authors are uncertain about what might constitute a potential financial conflict of interest, they should err on the side of full disclosure and should contact the editorial office if they have questions or concerns. In addition, authors who have no relevant financial interests are asked to provide a statement indicating that they have no financial interests related to the material in the manuscript and to include this information in the Acknowledgment section of the submitted manuscript.3,4,20

The ICMJE recommends that editors publish authors' conflict of interest statements if they believe that the information will help readers.2 Decisions about whether financial information provided by authors should be published, and thereby disclosed to readers, are usually straightforward. For example, authors of a manuscript about hypertension should report all financial relationships they have with all manufacturers of products used in the management of hypertension, not only those relationships with companies whose specific products are mentioned in the manuscript. If authors are uncertain about what constitutes a relevant financial interest or relationship, and whether or not the journal would deem a specific conflict of interest relevant, they should contact the editorial office.

Although editors are willing to discuss disclosure of specific financial information with authors, JAMA and the Archives Journals require complete disclosure of all relevant financial interests at the time of manuscript submission, and each author’s disclosure of relevant financial interests or declaration of no relevant financial interests will be published in the Acknowledgment section of the article.3,4

A journal’s conflict of interest policies should apply to all manuscript submissions, including reports of research, reviews, opinion pieces (eg, editorials), letters to the editor, and book reviews.

Some journals might not accept manuscripts from authors with financial interest in the subject of the manuscript. For example, editors of some journals prefer that authors of some types of articles, such as editorials, commentaries, and reviews, not have relevant financial interests in the subject matter.22,23 Unlike scientific reports, editorials and nonsystematic reviews contain no primary data and offer an evaluation of a topic from a selection and interpretation of the literature; hence, they are more susceptible to bias, which accompanying financial disclosures do not obviate. Authors of opinion pieces and review articles are expected to provide an expert, unbiased, and authoritative perspective, which they may not be able to do if they have financial ties to products or services mentioned in the manuscript or are otherwise related (eg, within the same area, category, or topic). However, such policies may be overly restrictive and may limit the journal’s ability to publish articles from some qualified authors. Journals with concerns about the financial interests of authors of opinion pieces and review articles must balance the risk of publishing potentially biased discussion and comment against excluding potentially valuable contributions to the literature, which in some fields may be the only expert contribution available. The key is for the editor to ensure that the editorial or review is as balanced, objective, and evidence-based as possible. If, after review and careful consideration, the editor believes the work is biased and that the author is unable or unwilling to revise the manuscript to eliminate such bias and prospective readers would be misled, the editor should not accept the manuscript for publication. JAMA’s policy recognizes that conflicts of interest are common, and in some cases perhaps even helpful (for example, from a knowledgeable and critical reviewer with an opposing viewpoint). This policy favors complete disclosure from all authors over a ban of authors with conflicts of interest. However, when inviting an author to write an editorial to comment on a paper to be published, the editors will ask the prospective author to disclose any relevant financial interests and consider this information carefully, in light of the potential for harm from bias vs benefit from expertise, before confirming that the author is the best available person to write the editorial.

Information about relevant financial interest can be published in the “Acknowledgment” section at the end of the article (after the list of author contributions and before information about grants and financial or material support) or on the title page of the article near the author’s affiliation. (See also 2.10.7, Manuscript Preparation, Acknowledgment Section, Financial Disclosure, and 5.2, Acknowledgments.)

The following example shows placement in the Acknowledgment section:

Author Contributions: As principal investigator, Dr Jones had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Study concept and design: Jones, Jacques, Smith, Brown

Acquisition of data: Jones, Smith, Brown

Analysis and interpretation of data: Jones, Jacques, Smith, Brown

Drafting of the manuscript: Jones

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Jacques, Smith, Brown

Statistical analysis: Jacques

Obtained funding: Jones

Study supervision: Brown

Financial Disclosures: Dr Jones has served as a paid consultant to Wyler Laboratories. Dr Jacques owns stock in Wyler Laboratories. Drs Smith and Brown reported no financial interests.

[Or: Financial Disclosures: None reported.]

Funding/Support: This study was funded in part by Wyler Laboratories.

The following example shows placement in the author affiliation footnote:

Author Affiliations: Department of Cardiology, Ambrose University Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (Drs Jones and Smith), and Wyler Laboratories, Geneva, Switzerland (Dr Jacques and Mr Dube).

Financial Disclosures: Dr Jones has served as a paid consultant to Wyler Laboratories. Dr Jacques owns stock in Wyler Laboratories. Drs Smith and Brown reported no financial interests.

Corresponding Author: John J. Jones, MD, Department of Cardiology, Ambrose University Hospital, 444 N State St, Boston, MA 01022 (

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