Code of conduct & conflicts of interest
Code of conduct
One of the foundations of the scientific profession is the acceptance by its members of a 'code of conduct', which outlines desired behaviour and obligations of members of the profession to each other and the public. Such a code of conduct seeks to maximise the benefits of science to society and the profession. The advancement of science requires the sharing of knowledge, even though this may sometimes forego any immediate personal advantage.
The publication of scientific research in journals is one of the fundamental ways in which the Royal Society of Chemistry serves the chemical science communities. Central to this service is the responsibility that editors, authors and reviewers maintain the high ethical standard relating to the publication of manuscripts. In cases where these guidelines are breached or appear to be so, the Royal Society of Chemistry will consult the code of conduct and best practice guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and act accordingly. This document* outlines these responsibilities.
*Reproduced in part with permission from 'Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research', Chem Rev., 1995, 95, pp 11A-13A. © 1985, 1989, 1995 American Chemical Society. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
Conflicts of interest
The relevant Royal Society of Chemistry journal concerned should be informed of any significant** conflict of interest that editors, authors or reviewers may have, in order to determine if any action may be appropriate (such as adding a declaration of an author’s conflict of interest to a published piece, or disqualifying a reviewer). Conflicts of interest are almost inevitable and it is not intended to attempt to eliminate these. For a description and discussion of some leading journals' policies on conflicts of interest see: F van Kolfschooten, 'Conflicts of interest: Can you believe what you read?', Nature, 28 March 2002, vol. 416, pp. 360-363; DOI: 10.1038/416360a.
Editors, authors and reviewers of a manuscript should inform the relevant journal of any significant financial interest - recent, present or anticipated - in any organisation that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of the piece (for example, employment by such an organisation; funds for research; funds for a member of staff; fees for consulting; stock or share holdings; patent interests). If you have such an interest, you may have a conflict of interest, which should be declared.
An editor, author or reviewer may wish to disclose to the editor a conflict of interest that would be embarrassing if it became generally known (for example, an academic link or rivalry or a close relationship with, or a strong antipathy to, a person whose interests may be affected by publication of a manuscript).
**Significance may be judged by considering whether an undeclared conflict of interest could be embarrassing were it to become publicly known after the fact.