We are currently reproducing several papers in a specific sub-field of computer science under different experimental conditions. When we submit the paper, we will be required to declare people who may have conflicts of interest. Most of the original authors of the papers we are reproducing are aware that we are doing this work.

Should we declare the authors of the original papers that we are reproducing as conflicts of interest?

Arguments in favor:

  1. Reviews may not be blind, as they know we are doing the work (review is double-blind)
  2. We may be "stepping on some toes" by showing that their results do not hold up when reproduced under more realistic circumstances. Conversely, as Wrzlprmft notes, we may be biasing others in favor of accepting, if we show their results to be correct.

Arguments against:

  1. They are best suited as reviewers. If we name all of them as conflicts of interest, we will have excluded more or less every expert in the field, thus making it much less likely that we will get a reviewer familiar with the field

Is there an established guideline for this kind of situation (in CS or other fields)?


2 Answers 2


I don't know about general guidelines, but since the pros and cons are both reasonable, I would delegate this issue to the journal's editor. You could mention it in the letter to the editor (and even list your pros and cons) but leave the decision to them.


Your reasons for declaring conflicts of interest are valid, so I would suggest not worrying yourself over the rest. It's the journal's responsibility to find reviewers. In any case, I don't think any journal is obligated to choose reviewers based on the authors' perceived conflict of interest. These are usually only suggestions solicited.

By not declaring some authors and declaring others, you would be guilty of partiality and possible malpractice. By not declaring any, while you know they exist, you might be doing something unethical.

In summary, save yourself worry, go ahead and declare all authors involved in the study.

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