Illustrative examples of conflict of interest

This guidance is in the process of being updated; additional information will be available soon.

Financial interests:

Examples of situations in which financial declarations of conflicts of interest are made:

1. Staff of the University serving on other bodies, e.g. research council committees, grant review panels, editorial boards etc, will typically be asked by those parties to declare financial interests.

2. Authors submitting a manuscript must disclose any 'significant financial interest' or other relationship with the manufacturers of any commercial products or providers of commercial services discussed in the manuscript and any financial supporters of the research. The intent of such disclosures is not to prevent an author with a significant financial or other relationship from publishing a paper, but rather to provide readers with information upon which to make their own judgments.

Research:

Examples of situations that give rise to conflicts of interest in research include:

3. The researcher has a financial interest in the company sponsoring the research, this being exacerbated if the value of the researcher's interest may be affected by the outcome of the research. The researcher is an inventor of patents or creator of other IP whose value may be affected by the outcome of the research.

4. The researcher holds a position in an enterprise (e.g. as director) that may wish to restrict (or otherwise manage) adverse research findings for commercial reasons or not wish to publish the results of the research.

5. A researcher or a related body in which the researcher has an affiliation or a financial interest may benefit, directly or indirectly, from dissemination of research results in a particular way (including any unwarranted delay in or restriction upon publication of such results).

6. A researcher conducts a clinical trial which is sponsored by any person or organisation with a financial interest in the results of the trial. A postgraduate research student conducts research on a project that receives support from a company in which the student has a financial interest or significant position.

7. Some research funding agencies set specific disclosure requirements related to financial interest. They may require, for example, direct notification to them or to University officials where a principal investigator's financial interests might reasonably appear to be affected by the outcomes of the research. Some types of research, e.g. clinical trials, also require additional declarations related to financial interest. Researchers need to be aware of and comply with those specific requirements. Further information can be found in the terms and conditions of the grant or contract. Researchers should contact Research Services if they are in any doubt as to the requirements.

Student supervision and teaching:

Examples of situations that give rise to conflicts of interest in relation to student supervision and teaching include:

8. Staff with a close personal or familial relationship with a student or a student's family who may be involved in decisions about that student's admission, supervision or academic progress, or the award of any studentships, prizes or other grants to the student.

9. An academic or a non-academic member of staff who is on the Board of Governors of a school who may be involved in considering a student from that school for an undergraduate place.

10. A member of staff who is in a position to judge the quality of a student's work or to evaluate a student in any way holds or proposes to take a financial stake or hold a formal position in any student-run, -owned or -controlled commercial venture whilst that student is enrolled at the University.

11. A postgraduate research student receiving support from a company in which his/her academic supervisor has a financial interest or position.

Other examples of possible conflicts of interest:

12. Participating in the appointment, hiring, promotion, supervision or evaluation of a person with whom the staff member has a close personal relationship.

13. A researcher has a financial interest in the licensee (or proposed licensee) of University intellectual property.

14. A staff member takes part in the negotiation of a contract between the University and a company, where the staff member or his or her family or a close personal friend has a financial or non-financial interest (e.g. a directorship) in that company.

15. An academic who has a senior editorial position with a commercial journal is also on a University library committee that recommends journal subscriptions.

16. An academic chairs a University committee which is to consider the allocation of funds to be shared between a number of colleges, including his own.