Competing interests: Anything to declare?

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 52, No. 3, April 2010, Page 119 Letters

In the January/February issue we printed a letter and response regarding BCMJ Editorial Board members and competing interests.[1] The writers felt that editorialists (who are all BCMJ Editorial Board members) ought to state their competing interests, and we replied in the same issue that BCMJ policy is to seek and publish competing interest statements from authors of clinical/scientific/review articles only. 

We then receiv­ed a follow-up letter arguing in favor of disclosure statements for, presumably, everything we print. They cite a new disclosure policy by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), whose Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts the BCMJ endorses. Neither the editorial introducing the new form[2] nor the form itself[3] suggest disclosure for all items printed in journals, referring solely to “articles.”

While we disagree that all printed items ought to carry a disclosure statement, we do agree with the spirit of openness that these correspondents are seeking, and also that on occasion Editorial Board members may have competing interests. 

On the rare occasion that a conflict of this nature arises in the course of a meeting, it has always been the Board’s practice that the member excuses himself or herself from the meeting while the decision is being made. Additionally, each Board member will provide a blanket disclosure statement, along with some personal information, which will be permanently posted at

As stated on the contents page of every issue, “Statements and opinions expressed in the BCMJ reflect the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the BCMA.” As of this issue you will see an addendum to the end of that statement, as follows: “or the institutions they may be associated with.”
—David R. Richardson, MD, Editor


1. Brar R, Brcic V, Etches N, et al. Conflict of interest. BCMJ 2010;52:9-10.
2. Drazen JM, Van Der Weyden MB, Sahni P, et al. Uniform format for disclosure of competing interests in ICMJE journals. JAMA 2010;303:75-76.
3. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. ICMJE Uniform Disclosure Form for Potential Conflicts of Interest. (accessed 11 March 2010).

David R. Richardson, MD. Competing interests: Anything to declare?. BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 3, April, 2010, Page(s) 119 - Letters.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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