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Conflict of Interest Policy

PNAS recognizes the multiplicity of financial and other conflicts confronting authors, referees, and editors. PNAS adopted a policy in February 2005 that does not aim to eliminate conflict but to manage it. The most important element of our policy is that all authors, members, referees, and editors must disclose any association that poses or could be perceived as a financial or intellectual conflict of interest in connection with the manuscript.

Authors are required during submission of their manuscripts to complete the online declaration form, to disclose any conflict of interest, and to acknowledge all funding sources supporting the work. The corresponding author must ensure that all authors have been asked to disclose any conflicts of interest.

When asked to evaluate a manuscript, reviewers and editors must disclose any association that poses a conflict of interest in connection with the manuscript. Recent collaborators, defined as people who have coauthored a paper or were a principal investigator on a grant with any of the authors within the past 48 months, must be excluded as editors and reviewers. Referees and editors are asked to recuse themselves from handling a paper if the conflict makes them unable to make an impartial scientific judgment or evaluation. A referee or editor who has a conflict but believes that it does not preclude his or her making a proper judgment must disclose to the journal the nature of the conflict.

Divulging a potential conflict usually does not invalidate the research or the comments of a referee or editor; it simply provides the reader information necessary to independently assess the work. A conflict of interest includes a financial association or relationship that could influence the objectivity, integrity, or interpretation of a publication. Such conflicts of interest include relationships with corporations whose products or services are related to the subject matter of the article. These relations include employment, substantive ownership of stock or mutual funds,1 membership on a standing advisory council or committee, service on the board of directors, or public association with the company or its products. Other areas of conflict of interest could include receiving consulting fees, patent filings, serving as a paid spokesperson, or providing services in exchange for honoraria. Other examples of possible conflicts include past or present association as thesis advisor or thesis student, or a family relationship, such as a spouse, domestic partner, or parent–child relationship.

When a conflict of interest is disclosed either by the author or editor, a footnote describing the conflict will be included with the published article.

PNAS reserves the right to publish an erratum disclosing conflict(s) of interest related to a previously published paper. Authors, referees, or editors who have deliberately or recklessly failed to disclose conflicts of interest may receive sanctions, including being banned from publishing in PNAS for a period of time.

This policy applies to all material published in PNAS including research articles, Perspectives, Editorials, Reviews, Colloquium Papers, and Commentaries. For clarification of the policy, please see www.danielhellerman.com/site/authors/index.xhtml or contact PNAS at pnas{at}nas.edu

1 For example, many US universities require faculty members to disclose interests exceeding $10,000 or 5% equity in a company.

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