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Declaration of all potential conflicts of interest is required by Copernicus Publications as this is an integral aspect of a transparent record of scientific work. Disclosure of relationships and interests provides a more complete picture of the research and prevents biased assessment of it. In addition, the disclosure of (potential) competing interest helps readers to form their own judgements of potential bias.
A conflict of interest occurs when professional conclusions regarding the complete and objective presentation of research are influenced or could be influenced by a secondary interest. Therefore, we require that our authors disclose such possible competing interests. Competing interests often arise with regard to financial matters. However, conflicts of interest can also be non-financial, professional, or personal and can exist in relation to institutions or individuals. Examples of possible competing interest that are directly or indirectly related to the research include (but are not limited to) the following:
If there are no competing interests in their submitted manuscripts, authors should state so explicitly: "The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest." This statement should come prior to the acknowledgements.
If there are possible conflicts of interest, authors must state what competing interests are relevant to the submitted work: "Author A has received research funding from Company Y. Author B is a member of committee Z."
If some authors are members of the editorial board of the journal, a sentence should be included for the sake of transparency: "Some authors are members of the editorial board of journal X. The peer-review process was guided by an independent editor, and the authors have also no other competing interests to declare."
A conflict of interest takes place when there is any interference with the objective decision making by an editor or objective peer review by the referee. Such secondary interests could be financial, personal, or in relation to any organization. If editors or referees encounter their own conflict of interest, they have to declare so and – if necessary – renounce their role in assessing the respective manuscript.
Reasons for editors and referees to recuse themselves from the peer-review process include (but are not limited to) the following:
Where there is a strong case (e.g. in small fields of science) for editors to use a referee to whom one or more of these cases apply, the editors should aim to obtain an objective review. They should also secure at least one review from a fully independent referee.