In January of this year, the independent European journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics launched a debate on the issue of conflict of interest and special interest groups.
The editor of the journal, Giovanni A. Fava (University of Bologna), suggested that special interest groups (groups of scientists who share common financial interests) are taking over control of science, acting to protect corporate interests in medical journals by virtue of their editorial positions.
Fava also wondered about the efficacy of disclosure of financial interest required by the most respectable scientific journals in the U.S. and in Europe.
Now Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University presents new data in the journal which increases these concerns.
Krimsky's group examined 1,400 journals selected from the Science Citation Index on the basis of their impact factor. Their findings:
* Only about 15% of journals had conflict-of-interest disclosure policies for authors.
* A conflict of interest was actually reported in less than 1% of articles.
As Dr. Fava points out, "These data indicate that disclosure of conflict of interest simply does not take place."
Krimsky concludes his paper by stating that "societies that respect the inviolability of academic integrity must recalibrate the balance in the system between the rights of academic scientists to pursue personal and institutional financial gains and the public's interest in incorruptible science".
Fava GA: Conflict of interest and special interest groups. Psychother Psychosom 2001; 70: 1-5
Krimsky S: Journal policies on conflict of interest: if this is the therapy, what's the disease? Psychother Psychosom 2001; 70: 115-117
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Online
[Contact: Giovanni A. Fava, Sheldon Krimsky]