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Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interests occur when various personal, financial, political and academic concerns coexist and the potential exists for one interest to be illegitimately favoured over another that has equal or even greater legitimacy, in a way that might make other reasonable people feel misled or deceived. Research related conflicts of interest may apply to researchers and those who facilitate research funding with industry, philanthropic sources and government agencies.

Conflicts of interest in the research area are common and it is important that they are disclosed and dealt with properly. An individual researcher should therefore expect to be conflicted from time to time, and be ready to acknowledge the conflict and make disclosures as appropriate.

Examples of possible conflicts of interest in research include, but are not limited to, situations:

  1. where the research is sponsored by a related body;
  2. where the researcher or a related body may benefit, directly or indirectly, from any inappropriate dissemination of research results (including any delay in or restriction upon publication of such results);
  3. where the researcher or a related body may benefit, directly or indirectly, from the use of University resources;
  4. where the researcher conducts a clinical trial which is sponsored by any person or organisation with a significant interest in the results of the trial.
  5. where private benefits or significant personal or professional advantage are dependent on research outcomes.

Note: A related body is any person or body with which the researcher has an affiliation or a financial involvement.

A financial involvement includes a direct or indirect financial interest, provision of benefits (such as travel and accommodation) and provision of materials or facilities.

An indirect financial interest is a financial interest or benefit derived by the researcher's relatives, personal or business associates, or students.

It is important to recognise that real or perceived opportunities to give preference to personal interests may routinely arise from competing obligations and can be other than financial.

The responsibility for managing a conflict of interest rests, in the first instance, with the individual. Researchers and those who facilitate research and research funding should assess their own situation to ascertain if a conflict of interest exists whenever there is potential for a perceived or actual conflict of interest.

All staff and students must make a full disclosure of a conflict of interest or of circumstances that might give rise to a perceived or potential conflict of interest as soon as reasonably practicable.

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