A conflict of interest occurs when someone in a position of authority has the opportunity to participate in decisions that may lead to a perception of bias or favoritism based on that person’s relationship with an individual who would be affected by the decision.
At JCR, conflicts of interest typically involve decisions made by editors or members of the editorial team, members of the Policy Board, and the like that affect colleagues (former and current), classmates, coauthors (from the past four years), students/advisees, mentors/advisers, rivals, family members, or close friends. Editors might also have conflicts because of their obligations to other journals or organizations.
This document aims to specify some circumstances in which a conflict of interest might occur. Further, it offers some policy and governance remedies to address such conflicts and avoid perceptions of bias as well as favoritism and to preserve the journal’s reputation.
The editorial management model may vary over time. In this document, the term “editor” refers to the editor in chief as well as others who are designated as editors, co-editors, or action editors (but not associate editors), and is intended to apply to those individuals who make final decisions on the disposition of a manuscript.
Editors may not serve as editors or associate editors for other journals during their term as editor at JCR.
Manuscripts authored or coauthored by editors may be submitted to JCR for review or publication during the term of the editor. However, a special guest editor will oversee any submission on which a current editor is an author. The special guest editor has sole responsibility for the entire review process, including the final decision on the manuscript. To parallel the normal JCR editorial process, the special guest editor recruits guest associate editors (who may not be selected from the existing list of associate editors).
If an incoming editor has a manuscript in process (i.e., the manuscript has not been rejected outright) at the time she or he assumes editorial responsibilities, the manuscript will continue to be processed by the prior editor, and in a manner designed to assure the integrity of the blind review process. If the paper is accepted for publication, a note will accompany the published version describing the special nature of the review process.
Recommendations Regarding Governance
Editors who serve in other positions of governance (e.g., president of an association) during their term as editor at JCR should be sensitive to the potential demands that these other commitments place on their time. Such time commitments might reduce the time available to provide stewardship to JCR. The Policy Board offers this observation in the hope and expectation that the editor will devote the appropriate amount of attention to the journal.
Editors should be sensitive to perceptions of bias on the part of readers, authors, and reviewers of JCR manuscripts when creating their Editorial Review Board (ERB). Editors should consider the individual’s history of timeliness and quality of reviewing, publications, scholarly expertise, citations, and similar objective criteria of excellence when selecting ERB members.
Editors should be sensitive to perceptions of bias on the part of readers, authors, and reviewers of JCR manuscripts, as well as other nominees, when selecting outstanding reviewer award recipients. Objective criteria such as timeliness of reviews, workload, quality of reviews as judged by the editor, associate editors (or authors), and the like might be valuable inputs into these decisions. It is recommended that criteria for awards be made public prior to the selection of awardees.
Conflicts Regarding the Review Process
To ensure that the review process is free of conflicts:
- Editors should select a guest editor when there is a conflict of interest with respect to an author.
- Editors should ensure that associate editors and reviewers are free of conflict of interest with respect to an author.
- Associate editors and reviewers must notify the editor if they are assigned to a paper where there is a conflict of interest with respect to an author.
Conflicts Regarding the Ferber Award
To ensure that the Ferber Award selection process is free of conflicts:
- The editor must not select judges who have a conflict with authors eligible for the Ferber Award.
- If the editor has a conflict, the president of the Policy Board will manage the process.
- If the president has a conflict, the vice president will manage the process.
JCR‘s Policy Board is composed of representatives appointed by the journal’s eleven sponsoring organizations. The Policy Board is responsible for the development and implementation of editorial direction and policy. The Policy Board is also responsible for the business affairs of the nonprofit corporation that owns the journal.
Recommendations Regarding Governance
Policy Board members should reveal potential or obvious conflicts of interest (e.g., editor candidates are colleagues (former and current), classmates, relatives, advisees/students, advisers/mentors, coauthors (in the past four years), rivals, close friends) prior to the onset of deliberations regarding the editor candidates. Such transparency will allow other Policy Board members to take the expressed conflict into account during deliberations and voting.
Conflicts Regarding the Best Article Award Process
To ensure that the Best Article Award selection process is free of conflicts:
- If the president of the Policy Board has a conflict of interest, the vice president will manage the process. If the president and the vice president have a conflict, the editor will manage the process. The editor does not have a vote.
- Policy Board members may only vote on papers on which they do not have a conflict of interest and are asked to not vote on papers on which they have a conflict of interest.
- Votes will be adjusted in cases of conflict to account for different denominators in the calculation of final tallies.
Policy Board members may not serve as associate editors during their terms on the Policy Board. If a Policy Board member is selected as an associate editor, this person must resign from the Policy Board. If an associate editor is selected as a Policy Board member, this person must resign from the associate editor position.
If you have any questions, contact the editorial office.