Medical Journal Editors Update Universal Author Disclosure Form

September 01, 2010 05:35 pm News Staff

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, or ICMJE, has updated its uniform disclosure form(, which journal article authors use to report potential conflicts of interest.

The 14 journals that are ICMJE members, including the Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, have adopted the electronic form.

American Family Physician, the AAFP's peer-reviewed journal, has its own conflict of interest form.

Authors who have submitted manuscripts for publication are required to fill out the ICMJE form. Readers, in turn, receive information about authors' other interests.

The form asks authors for several types of information, including

  • an accounting of direct or indirect resources they have received to complete the work referenced in their manuscripts,
  • a description of their financial relationships with biomedical entities that could influence the content of the submitted work, and
  • information about other relationships or activities that readers could perceive as having influenced an author's work.

The ICMJE first introduced the form in October 2009. According to an editorial in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, the form was developed to avoid the confusion caused by "the great variability in the processes that different journals use to ask about and report authors' potential conflicts of interest."

After receiving feedback on the form from ICJME member journals and others, the committee revised the original to, among other things, remove queries about potential competing interests of authors' spouses and minor children, as well as questions about nonfinancial competing interests, and to clarify the form's language and improve its organization.

The ICMJE also will create a glossary of terms to help nonnative English speakers complete the form and will post guidelines for translating the form's instructions into various languages.

The committee welcomes continued comments and feedback on the form.