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Table 2 Relevant questions to ask when assessing polarised conflict of interest

From: Fake facts and alternative truths in medical research

Addressee Question
Editors Is the topic or the field of the submitted manuscript subject to significant controversy (with respect to methods, results, conclusions, or recommendations)?
Which are the groups (the “poles”) and what do they disagree on?
Where does the manuscript lie with respect to these groups (poles)?
Do the suggested or considered reviewers belong to the same pole as the authors?
Can you find qualified reviewers that are independent of the identified groups?
Do the authors state their polarised conflict of interest?
Do you or co-editors have a specific stance on the controversy? If yes, how will you handle this? (stating conflict of interest, using alternative editors etc)
Reviewers and Editors Based on your expertize in this field, are there groups with competing views on methods, theories, outcomes, or/and policies in the field (of the manuscript)? (Polarisation awareness)
If yes, do you and the author(s) belong to the same group? (Polarisation idenfitication)
Based on your reading of the manuscript, if the results, conclusion or recommendations of the study were the opposite (data and methods being the same) would you assess the manuscript differently? (Own stance in polarisation)
Researchers “If the results of your current (well planned and well conducted) project point in the opposite direction of the results of your previous research on this topic, would your first reaction be to reanalyse the data and reconsider your methods, or to reconsider your previous conclusions?” (Result polarisation)
“If your findings were the exact same as the opposing researchers in this field of research, would your policy recommendations be any different from the recommendations of the opposing group?” (Interpretation polarisation)
When calculating outcome measures from your results (e.g., risk/benefit ratios) and these result from the methods, models or evidence criteria that you use, would you still use the same methods, models or evidence criteria if the outcome measures were very different (opposing)? (Methods polarisation)
Is your institution, department, or organization is providing services related to your research? If yes, do you find it appropriate to proclaim “nothing to declare” in the conflict of interest statement? (Affiliation polarisation)