I want to write a commentary (for a journal) about a paper a collaborator has published.

Is there a conflict of interest? Is it research misconduct if I write the commentary?

  • 2
    Why do you think that it might be? Mar 17, 2021 at 15:47
  • 1
    I don't know. I thought it might be a conflict of interest because it could be argued that I can't be completely objective.
    – J. Doe
    Mar 17, 2021 at 15:48
  • Why would I ever write a commentary for someone who isn't a collaborator? I'm not made out of commentaries.
    – user133933
    Mar 17, 2021 at 15:52
  • 1
    @J.Doe There's no such thing as complete objectivity. Mar 17, 2021 at 16:05
  • Simply disclose in the commentary the fact that it is your collaborator.
    – GEdgar
    Mar 17, 2021 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


If you want to be "safe" just reveal the relationship. Then people can better judge whether what you have to say is just fluffing (if it is too positive) or grumpiness/sabotage (if it is too negative) or that it is a fair assessment of the other work as it should be.

For an explicit answer to the topline question, however, motive matters. It is possibly misconduct either to try to "catapult" the work of a collaborator or to sabotage it. Writing a fair analysis isn't misconduct.

Following up on a comment, if the editor thinks that writing such commentaries is a clear conflict, then you shouldn't bother to submit it. In such a case, publishing it without disclosing the relationship would be misconduct, not because of the writing of the commentary, but from the deceit of withholding information from the editor.

  • 1
    I think it is a good idea. If the editor objects then you can make the change. I wonder why the other journal was unhappy though.
    – Buffy
    Mar 17, 2021 at 15:58
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    Still, I wonder about the reasoning. I question whether the editor is being ethical, in fact.
    – Buffy
    Mar 17, 2021 at 15:59
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    The editor previously said this, "we have a strict policy against inviting authors to write commentaries on papers from researchers that they have worked very closely with because it would pose a clear conflict of interest. "
    – J. Doe
    Mar 17, 2021 at 16:02
  • 2
    @J.Doe What answer do you want from us, then? Mar 17, 2021 at 16:06
  • 3
    Ah. That changes the game. You should probably not submit it at all. See my recent edit.
    – Buffy
    Mar 17, 2021 at 16:07

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