Editors Should Declare Conflicts of Interest

Editors have increasing pressure as scholarly publishing tries to shore up trust and reassure academics and the public that traditional peer review is robust, fail-safe, and corrective. Hidden conflicts of interest (COIs) may skew the fairness of the publishing process because they could allow the status of personal or professional relationships to positively influence the outcome of peer review or reduce the processing period of this process. Not all authors have such privileged relationships. In academic journals, editors usually have very specialized skills and are selected as agents of trust, entrusted with the responsibility of serving as quality control gate-keepers during peer review. In many cases, editors form extensive networks, either with other professionals, industry, academic bodies, journals, or publishers. Such networks and relationships may influence their decisions or even their subjectivity towards a set of submitting authors, paper, or institute, ultimately influencing the peer review process. These positions and relationships are not simply aspects of a curriculum, they are potential COIs. Thus, on the editorial board of all academic journals, editors should carry a COI statement that reflects their past history, as well as actual relationships and positions that they have, as these may influence their editorial functions.
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