JAMA published updated instructions for authors in its July 6 issue. The section on data access and responsibility reads: “For all reports (regardless of funding source) containing original data, at least 1 author (eg, the principal investigator) who is independent of any commercial funder should indicate that she or he ‘had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.’ For industry-sponsored studies, this statement must be provided by an investigator who is not employed by any commercial funder, and an independent data analysis must be conducted by statisticians at an academic institution with access to the raw data set, rather than only by statisticians employed by the company sponsoring the research.” So it appears that authors of industry funded studies have to jump through special hoops and an easier standard applies to everyone else. The safeguards against bias are selectively applied to financial conflicts of interest while other conflicts are ignored.
An editorial in this week’s BMJ takes JAMA to task for the policy. It states: “This policy is manifestly unfair. It violates the proposition that each submission should be considered on its merits and it creates a hierarchy of purity among authors.” It goes on to point out the unfairness of judging work based on author affiliation. Though often critical of BMJ, I’ve gotta side with them on this one.