Cochrane has released its revised Conflict of Interest policy for Cochrane Library Content. The policy was created with the support of a project board made up of key stakeholders and conflict of interest experts from within and outside Cochrane, following a rigorous policy revision process that began in May 2018. It represents an important step in promoting the integrity of Cochrane Library content. The revised policy, slated for implementation in October 2020, includes stricter rules for financial interests and the consideration of non-financial interests.
Some key features of the revised and strengthened policy are: Authors without conflicts of interest must make up at least two-thirds of the author team; last as well as first authors must be entirely free of conflicts of interest; authors of clinical studies that are funded by industry and are relevant to the topic of a review may not be the first or last author of a Cochrane Review; and non-financial interests must be closely considered and declared by all Cochrane authors, but will not prevent people from creating Cochrane Library content.
While implementation was originally planned for July, the Governing Board and Project Team have decided to delay policy launch until October. This will allow additional time to optimise the editorial systems to better support application of the new policy, as well as allow for work disruptions that have occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Cochrane's response to it. All Cochrane Review titles registered after policy implementation must follow the revised policy, and the same is true for updates that begin after implementation.
Cochrane is working closely with its technology teams to ensure that the editorial systems are optimised to support implementation and uptake of the revised policy. Monthly updates on this progress and the implementation date will be provided on the Conflict of Interest policy page.
Before the policy comes into effect, there will be opportunities for Cochrane Review Group (CRG) editorial team members, authors and other Cochrane members to learn about the policy and how it may affect their Cochrane activities. In addition, a Conflict of Interest Policy Implementation Team, led by Ruth Foxlee, is in place to support policy implementation.
A new conflict of interest policy page has been set up at conflictofinterest.cochrane.org to provide access to the both the revised (2020) and old (2014) policies.
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