Conflict of Interest Statements (COIS) will now appear on PubMed Abstracts for all papers where indicated in publication.

pubmed image

New York University nutrition researcher Marion Nestle has been tracking industry-funded studies on her blog: 156 of 168 reported results that favored the funders’ interests. Annette Elizabeth Allen

This post was prompted by the following tweet:-

The link in the above tweet takes you to

Too many studies have hidden conflicts of interest. A new tool makes it easier to see them.

PubMed, the Google of scientific search, is now publishing funding information in its abstracts.

Great post by Julia Belluz @juliaoftoronto

My immediate response on Twitter

The screenshot in Julia’s post comes from….. PubMed PubMed Updates March 2017

Of the four changes mentioned, this is the most significant.

pm_update_fig1

The one example given by PubMed is from an Open Access (OA) paper indexed in PubMed Central (PMC) (additional arrow added).

PubMed COI

“PubMed will include conflict of interest statements below the abstract when these statements are supplied by the publisher”

Emphasis mine.

Generally speaking in terms of published research papers, COIs are largely hidden towards the end (if at all). They are vitally important IMO but this is the first time I’ve seen one indexed upfront in PubMed. Going back to a key point in Julia’s post:-

We strongly urge … all journals listed in PubMed to provide information about funding sources and other possible competing interests in all abstracts. To facilitate research, the “competing interest” section should be fully searchable. Thus, PubMed would advise users about the entity or entities that funded the study and whether (a) the authors reported no competing interests; (b) the authors reported the competing interests; (c) the article did not include a competing-interests disclosure statement; or (d) the journal did not provide disclosure of funding sources or the authors’ other competing interests.

pubmed pharma

SOURCE

In short my question is, will traditional/legacy/subscription based publishers make such important information freely available or remain hidden behind their paywalls ?

+++UPDATE 1+++

I asked my long term trusted contact at NCBI/NIH if they could confirm if these will appear widely or just on OA papers like the one mentioned.

They advised “I believe it’s on papers where indicated in publication”

+++UPDATE 2+++

I did a check on 22nd April to see if this change had been fully implemented. The following randomly picked papers were checked to see if COIs were mentioned in the Abstracts on PubMed. No mention made. Having read through the full texts of these, COIs appear in all of them. Clearly, still work to do for the PubMed team.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27249641
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26631378
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25246643

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