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The journal should avoid external reviewers with obvious potential conflicts of interest, e.g. colleagues from the department or institution where any of the authors work. Authors often provide names of persons who they believe should not be asked to review the manuscript because of a potential (usually professional) conflict of interest. Authors may be asked to explain or rationalise their requirements; the information is important for the journal editors in deciding whether to consider such concerns or not. The selection of reviewers follows the procedure for the peer-review process.

Reviewers must disclose any conflict of interest that could affect their assessment of a manuscript and they should refuse to review manuscripts if there is a possibility that they might be affected.  When reviewers do not mention a potential conflict, this may mean that a conflict exists but the reviewer has not disclosed it; or that there is no conflict of interest. In all cases, reviewers must submit a statement on conflict of interest. They must not use their knowledge of the work prior to its publication to promote their own interests.

The journal editors making the final decision on manuscripts must not have personal, professional or financial participation in any work they are assessing. If more editors take part in the decision-making, they must provide a current list of their financial interests (within the scope of the editorial team rules) and they should not participate in any decisions where there is a conflict of interest. Journal staff must not use any information obtained through their work for their private benefit. Editors should regularly sign a potential conflict of interest statement related to their obligations.


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