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  1. Research ethics
  2. Ethics approval process
  3. Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest is a set of circumstances where an individual’s professional judgement could potentially be influenced by a personal or commercial interest.

Considering potential conflicts of interest

A personal or commercial interest may include, but not limited to, financial gain; professional recognition; advancing the career or the education or the personal life of a family or friend member, or/and other members of staff or students.

Overall conflict of interest could arise if the researcher has commitment and obligations to another person or body that may appear to act as a potential influence over their independent conduct of research. A conflict of interest could be actual or perceived. They are both equally damaging to the outcome of a decision, therefore treated equal.

Conflict of interest must be declared before the researcher engages in any activity. If that is not possible, any potential conflict of interest must be declared as soon as the researcher becomes aware of such conflict. Applicants must declare any real or perceived conflicts of interest that are relevant to the research project on their application form.

Once the conflict of interest has been declared, each incident must be recorded including a description of how the researcher intends to manage the conflict of interest. The documents must be stored in the departmental shared drive where files can be encrypted with a password. Please note that the Research Ethics Committee may ask you to submit the documentation that shows how you plan to manage the conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest, openly declared and with an agreed process for managing the conflict, is unlikely to be a barrier to receiving ethical approval, provided that you have followed the conflict of interest policy.

Failure to declare a conflict of interest may lead to the refusal of ethical approval. If identified after approval has been given, the Committee must be notified as soon as possible; otherwise ethical approval will be withdrawn.

Please note that conflicts of interest should also be declared in any publications according to the journal’s and publisher’s policy.