More MS news articles for Jan 2002

Journals demand that authors declare their independence of sponsors

BMJ 2002;324:192 ( 26 January )
News extra
Roger Dobson, Abergavenny

Authors of papers submitted to the leading neurology journals will be required to declare that they have the right to publish any and all of their data, whatever the views of the sponsor. Without that and other written assurances, articles will not be considered for publication in the journals, say the editors in an editorial in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry (2002;72:143).

"Corporate sponsors must not be allowed to influence publication, or indeed to prevent it, especially when the data are not supportive of their product. Authors, editors, and industry sponsors are aware of these matters and it is now time to address them," they say.

The neurology journals, like others, already require each author to sign a statement of his or her financial arrangements with public, private, and industry sources of support, but the editors say that non-financial conflicts of interest between authors and corporate sponsors are of equal concern and require attention.

"These include the need for an open and candid relationship between authors and the policies of the sponsoring companies with regard to academic freedom. Issues of control and complete access to all data, conduct of statistical studies and analyses, manuscript preparation, and decisions to publish are of increasing importance and concern," they say.

"We firmly believe that manuscripts submitted to our journals are the intellectual property of the authors, not the study sponsor. Academic freedom includes the right of authors to have access to all of the data obtained in their study, to review it, obtain statistical analyses independently, and to publish their data based on their own decisions and not those of the financial sponsor.

"We will now require the principal author to declare in writing that he or she will take full responsibility for the data, the analyses and interpretation, and the conduct of the research; that he or she had full access to all of the data; and that he or she had the right to publish any and all data, separate and apart from the attitudes of the sponsor. Without these written assurances, we will not consider the paper for review."

The editorial is signed by the editors of the Archives of Neurology; Muscle and Nerve; European Journal of Neurology; Neurology; Stroke; Clinical Neurophysiology; Annals of Neurology; Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry; Movement Disorders; Journal of the Neurological Sciences; Brain; Epilepsia; Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair; and the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences.