Competing interests

Finding the right way to encourage authors to declare any relevant interests is a thorny issue, but it’s one worth tackling.

According to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors uniform declaration of competing interests, authors should disclose four types of information:

  • Their associations with commercial entities that provided support for the work reported in the submitted manuscript (the time frame for disclosure in this section of the form is the lifespan of the work being reported).
  • Their associations with commercial entities that could be viewed as having an interest in the general area of the submitted manuscript (the time frame for disclosure in this section is the 36 months before submission of the manuscript).
  • Any similar financial associations involving their spouse or their children under 18 years of age.
  • Non-financial associations that may be relevant to the submitted manuscript.


BMJ policy


BMJ believes that to make the best decision on how to deal with a manuscript the journal editor should know about any competing interests that authors may have. We are not aiming to eradicate competing interests as they are almost inevitable. We will not reject papers simply because authors have a competing interest, but these will be declared on the published paper.

A competing interest exists when professional judgement concerning a primary interest (such as patients’ welfare or the validity of research) may be influenced by a secondary interest (such as financial gain or personal relationship). There is nothing inherently unethical about a competing interest but it should be acknowledged and openly stated.

Examples of competing interests include the following: board membership, consultancy, employment, expert testimony grants (including pending), contract research, lectures/other education events, speakers’ bureaux, patents (planned, pending or issued), receipt of equipment or supplies, royalties, stock/stock options/other forms of ownership, additional expenses not included in COIs already specified, other personal or professional relationships that may influence or appear to influence.

It is recommended that all authors download and complete a copy of the ICMJE disclosure form, which is available as a PDF at They should keep a copy of the form and send a copy to their corresponding author. The corresponding author must insert within the submitted manuscript a summary statement headed “Competing Interests” at the end of the manuscript file (before the references) and in the “Competing interests” section on the ScholarOne submission system if required. This will be included in the published article.

If no competing interests statement is submitted, the default statement on the published article will be ‘None declared’.


BMJ Policy on Funding


All sources of funding should be declared under the heading “Funding” at the end of the manuscript file (before the references). Authors must describe the role of the study sponsor(s), if any, in the study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication. If the funder(s) had no such involvement, this should be stated.

Our submission system supports FundRef, which allows authors to easily supply details of their funder name(s) and grant number(s).

This section was adapted from an article by Dr Trish Groves, BMJ’s Director of Academic Outreach.
Oral Diseases (2010) 16, 313-315.