Objective: An increasing amount of funding in neurosurgery research comes from industry, which may create a conflict of interest (COI) and the potential to bias results. The reporting and handling of COIs have become difficult, particularly as explicit policies themselves and definitions thereof continue to vary between medical journals. In this study, the authors sought to evaluate the prevalence and comprehensiveness of COI policies among leading neurosurgical journals.
Methods: The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of publicly available online disclosure policies in the 20 highest-ranking neurosurgical journals, as determined by Google Scholar Metrics, in July 2016.
Results: Overall, 89.5% of the highest-impact neurosurgical journals included COI policy statements. Ten (53%) journals requested declaration of nonfinancial conflicts, while 2 journals specifically set a time period for COIs. Sixteen journals required declaration from the corresponding author, 13 from all authors, 6 from reviewers, and 5 from editors. Four journals were included in the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) list of publications that follow the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (currently known as Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals). Five journal policies included COI declaration verification, management, or enforcement. The neurosurgery journals with more comprehensive COI policies were significantly more likely to have higher h5-indices (p = 0.003) and higher impact factors (p = 0.01).
Conclusions: In 2016, the majority of, but not all, high-impact neurosurgical journals had publically available COI disclosure policies. Policy inclusiveness and comprehensiveness varied substantially across neurosurgical journals, but COI comprehensiveness was associated with other established markers of individual journals' favorability and influence, such as impact factor and h5-index.
Keywords: COI = conflict of interest; COPE = Committee of Publication Ethics; ICMJE = International Committee of Medical Journal Editors; conflicts of interest; disclosure; ethics; industry; journals; neurosurgery.