Reviewers must declare if they have any potential conflicts of interest that may influence their independent judgment and hence result in positively or negatively biased reviews. Declaration of competing interests aims to allow others to evaluate the autonomy and neutrality of the reviewer’s judgment. Competing interests generally arise from personal, financial or professional/academic relationships that result in a divergence between the reviewer’s private interests and his/her responsibilities as neutral reviewer.
Please contact the editorial office in case you are uncertain whether your personal relationship results in a conflict that has to be declared or not.
In any case, please refrain from reviewing a paper if you personally feel unable to provide a fair and unbiased review. If you review or comment on a paper, neither allow your judgment to be influenced by any personal characteristics of the authors nor by private financial considerations or personal relationships.
Answering the following questions will give you an impression of the kind of relationships we regard as potentially conflicting:
- Do you work in the same institution or for the same company as any of the authors or have applied for a job there?
- Have you been mentoring any of the authors within the past 5 years?
- Do you have a close collaboration or did you co-publish with any of the authors in the past 5 years?
- Have you been joint grant holders and/or co-applicants for research funding with any of the authors within the last 5 years?
- Do you have a close personal relationship with any of the authors, e.g. friendship, partnership, antipathy, family relationship, or other relations by marriage?
- Do you have personal, political or religious conviction that may have affected your opinion and that readers should be aware of when reading your review.
- Will you have any kind of financial benefit from a positive or negative evaluation of the paper?
- Do you have a financial interest in companies that might benefit from a positive or negative evaluation of the paper (e.g. direct employment, consultancy or advisory work, stock/share holder)?