Competing Interests Policy

Nature Human Behaviour’s competing interests policy

In the interests of transparency and to help readers form their own judgements of potential bias, Nature Human Behaviour requires authors to declare any competing financial and/or non-financial interests in relation to the work described. The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing interests statement on behalf of all authors of the paper. Authors submitting their manuscripts using the journal's online manuscript tracking system are required to make their declaration as part of this process and to specify the competing interests in cases where they exist. In other cases, usually for articles that have been commissioned by an editor, the journal office will send the author a form to complete and sign. Authors who have made a competing interest declaration as part of the online manuscript submission process do not need to complete and send a separate form.

Authors are required to include a statement at the end of their article to declare whether or not they have any competing interests. If the statement is more than a few lines long, the details will be made available in the online version of the article.

 

Definition

For the purposes of this statement, competing interests are defined as those that, through their potential influence on behaviour or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of a publication.

Financial competing interests can include any of the following:

Funding: Research support (including salaries, equipment, supplies, reimbursement for attending symposia, and other expenses) by organizations that may gain or lose financially through this publication. If the funder(s) had a role in the conceptualization, design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Employment: Recent (while engaged in the research project), present or anticipated employment by any organization that may gain or lose financially through this publication.

Personal financial interests: Stocks or shares in companies that may gain or lose financially through publication; consultation fees or other forms of remuneration from organizations that may gain or lose financially; patents or patent applications whose value may be affected by publication.

It is difficult to specify a threshold at which a financial interest becomes significant, but note that many US universities require faculty members to disclose interests exceeding $10,000 or 5% equity in a company (see, for example, B. Lo et alNew Engl. J. Med. 343, 1616-1620; 2000). Any such figure is necessarily arbitrary, so we offer as one possible practical alternative guideline: "Any undeclared competing financial interests that could embarrass you were they to become publicly known after your work was published."

We do not consider diversified mutual funds or investment trusts to constitute a competing financial interest.

 

Non-financial competing interests:

Non-financial competing interests can take different forms, including personal or professional relations with organisations and individuals. We would encourage authors and referees to declare any unpaid roles or relationships that might have a bearing on the publication process. Examples of non-financial competing interests include (but are not limited to):

  • Unpaid membership in a government or non-governmental organization
  • Unpaid membership in an advocacy or lobbying organization
  • Unpaid advisory position in a commercial organisation
  • Writing or consulting for an educational company
  • Acting as an expert witness

 

Application to authors

Authors’ declarations are disclosed to peer-reviewers unless the authors have opted for double-blind peer review. For double-blind peer reviewed manuscripts, competing interests declarations are shared with reviewers at the time of acceptance.  The published article (Article, Letter, Hypothesis, Analysis, Review, Perspective, Comment, Correspondence) indicates the authors' response using one of the following standard sentences:

  • The authors declare competing interests: details accompany the full-text HTML version of the paper at www.nature.com/nathumbehav.
  • The authors declare no competing interests.

The online declaration should include an itemized list of the competing interests.

For publications with more than one author, the corresponding author should provide a declaration on behalf of all authors.

We recognize that some authors may be bound by confidentiality agreements. In such cases the editors will investigate further and may at their discretion invite the authors to state in the online version, in place of itemized disclosure:"The authors declare that they are bound by confidentiality agreements that prevent them from disclosing their financial interests in this work." 

We do not require authors to state the monetary value of their financial interests.

Application to referees

The Nature journals invite peer-reviewers to exclude themselves in cases where there is a significant conflict of interest, financial or otherwise. However, just as competing interests need not invalidate the conclusions of an article, nor do they automatically disqualify an individual from evaluating it. We ask peer-reviewers to inform the editors of any related interests that might be perceived as relevant. Editors will consider these statements when weighing reviewers' recommendations.

Application to editors

All Nature journal editorial staff are required to declare to their employer (Nature Research) any interests — financial or otherwise — that might influence, or be perceived to influence, their editorial practices. Failure to do so is a disciplinary offence.

Application to publishing policy

The Nature journals thrive on their independence. Their strict policy is that editorial independence, decisions and content should not be compromised by commercial or financial interests, or by any specific arrangements with advertising clients or sponsors. Our policy is to disclose such arrangements where there is any risk of a perception of compromise.