Conflict of Interest

A Conflict of Interest (COI) in research relates to the possibility that the researcher has other than scientific interests in being part of a study team. The issue is about a perception of influence and related personal, financial or professional gain.

The University’s definition of a COI is stated in the Notre Dame Code of Conduct for Research :

“A conflict of interest arises in circumstances where that person has a real, perceived or potential opportunity to prefer their own interests, or those of any other person or organisation, to the interests of the University such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual's professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise.“

Defining a COI can be complex and subjective. Researchers are encouraged to disclose potentially contentious interests, even if unsure whether a COI exists, to avoid misinterpretation of their intellectual property, circumstances or affiliations outside the research project.

Human research ethics approval at Notre Dame requires researchers to report a potential COI. The Human Research Ethics Committee will review a disclosure of COI using the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (Chapter 5.4) as a guide to the identification and management of the issue.

For more information, a COI disclosure form developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) is most commonly used around the world as an informative source to better understand the need for disclosure of any other interests one can have as a researcher, and are likely to influence how the research is received or understood by others.

The Research Office can be contacted for advice.