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Special Article

Scientific Journals and Their Authors’ Financial Interests: A Pilot Study

Krimsky S.a · Rothenberg L.S.b · Stott P.c · Kyle G.d

Author affiliations

a Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and b Division of Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif., c Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Mass., and d Office of Corporate Liaison and Technology Transfer, Rutgers University, Piscataway, N.J., USA

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Psychother Psychosom 1998;67:194–201

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Special Article

Published online: July 31, 1998
Issue release date: July – October 1998

Number of Print Pages: 8
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 0033-3190 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0348 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/PPS

Abstract

Background: The credibility of modern science is grounded on the perception of the objectivity of its scientists, but that credibility can be undermined by financial conflicts of interest. The US Public Health Service and the National Science Foundation issued regulations effective October 1, 1995, regarding the disclosure of financial interests in the submission of grant proposals. Several scientific journals have also established pertinent policies for authors and editors. The objectives of this study were: (1) to select a set of published articles and observe the degree to which a sample of authors hold a financial interest in areas related to their research that are reportable under current standards, and (2) to examine the hypothesis that significant numbers of authors of articles in life science and biomedical journals have verifiable financial interests that might be important for journal editors and readers to know. This paper measures the frequency of selected financial interests held among lead authors of certain types of scientific publications and assesses disclosure practices of authors and journals. Method: These objectives were applied to a pilot study of Massachusetts academic scientists who were cited as first or last author in at least one article published in 1992 in 14 leading journals of cell or molecular biology and medicine. We created a database of every original article published in 1992 by 14 leading life science and biomedical journals, supplemented by data sets consisting of (1) Massachusetts biotechnology firms, including their officers and scientific advisory boards, and (2) scientists listed as inventors on patents or patent applications registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization. Results: We examined 1,105 university authors (first and last cited) from Massachusetts institutions whose 789 articles, published in 1992, appeared in 14 scientific and medical journals. Authors are said to ‘possess a financial interest’ if they are listed as inventors in a patent or patent application closely related to their published work; serve on a scientific advisory board of a biotechnology company; or are officers, directors, or major shareholders (beneficial owner of 10% or more of stock issued) in a firm that has commercial interests related to their research. Applying the criteria to the reference population of journals and Massachusetts academic authors, we measured the following frequencies for lead authors: 0.20 for serving on a scientific advisory board; 0.07 for being an officer, director, or major shareholder in a biotechnology firm, and 0.22 for being listed as an inventor in a related patent or patent application. The joint frequency of articles in the journals reviewed with a lead author that meets one of the three conditions is 0.34. Conclusions: One of every three articles in our sample has at least one Massachusetts-based author with a financial interest, and 15% of the authors in our sample have a financial interest relevant to one of their publications. For the year 1992, the rate of published voluntary disclosures of financial interest (as defined in our study) is virtually zero, but relatively few scientific and biomedical journals at that time required any such disclosure to journal editors and reviewers. Further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of mandatory disclosure requirements by some journals.


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Special Article

Published online: July 31, 1998
Issue release date: July – October 1998

Number of Print Pages: 8
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 0033-3190 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0348 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/PPS


Copyright / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.