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A systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that around 2% of scientists admit to have falsified research at least once. Up to 33% admit other questionable practices as plagiarism, duplicate publication, undisclosed changes in pre-research protocols or dubious ethical behaviour. There can be no doubt that discovered cases of research and publication misconduct represent a tip of an iceberg and many cases go unreported.
Beyond funding, conflicts of interest in scientific communication can occur in quite ordinary situations, such as when the author of a manuscript proposes that a friend revise the text or when the editor of a journal feels a particular inclination towards the articles of colleagues. Conflicts of interests in scientific publishing was the subject proposed by the Esteve Foundation last April 24, 2009 in Sitges, Spain for the Esteve Foundation Discussion Groups.
Harvey Marcovitch, chairman of the Committee on Publication Ethics(COPE) and associate editor of the British Medical Journal was asked to conduct the session entitled Conflict of interest in science communications: More than a financial issue. The conclusions of this meeting are listed in this article published in the Croatian Medical Journal.
With Marcovitch, the other participants who made contributions to the discussion were Virginia Barbour, chief editor of PLoS Medicine; Magne Nylenna, professor at the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services; Ana Marušić, chief editor of the Croatian Medical Journal;Carme Borrell, associate editor of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Esteve Fernandez, director of Gaceta Sanitaria,Helen MacDonald, editorial registrar of the British Medical Journal, andFelix Bosch, director of the Esteve Foundation.