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Understanding and handling conflicts of interest Caroline Hunter and Charlotte O’Brien.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding and handling conflicts of interest Caroline Hunter and Charlotte O’Brien."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding and handling conflicts of interest Caroline Hunter and Charlotte O’Brien

2 Outline Two “famous” cases Definitions and University position Types of conflicts, effects and principles Exercise

3 Why worry about conflicts of interest? Two stories at the extreme: Columbia Business School London School of Economics

4 Columbia Business School uDtvqJL7A uDtvqJL7A What issues does this raise for you? Is this a US only problem or do we face grave threats in the UK?

5 LSE – and Saif Gadaffi Solicited donation of £1.5m over 5 years Yahia Said’s account in interview with me is that elements within the Centre for Global Governance “felt that the Libyans were treating [Dr Brahimi] and generally the LSE, as if they had hired a PR firm... we have seen that before with donors who are not used to working with academic institutions. They feel that they have somehow hired a consultant and felt they could follow up closely to the programme that was going on”. Conclusion that no structures to prevent potential conflicts when using the money donated

6 Conflict of interest Conflict of interest: "A conflict of interest is a situation in which financial or other personal considerations have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgement and objectivity".

7 University requirements 5.1. Conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived, can damage the credibility of an individual’s activities, and also that of the discipline, the University and the academic community as a whole. The University Council requires Heads of Departments to maintain a local Register of Interests of staff within their department, which should be updated annually, in line with the Departmental Register of Declared Interests: Guidance Notes for Heads of Department. 5.2. Individuals have a responsibility to identify and declare any conflicts of interest i.e. any situations where their interests or those of others involved in their activity – whether financial, institutional, academic, political, personal or otherwise - are in conflict to the extent that they might impede or be seen to impede the validity and integrity of the work in question. Where a potential conflict of interest exists and cannot be avoided easily without detriment (e.g. leaving a meeting for the discussion of a particular item), it should be referred to the Head of Department in the first instance, and the relevant departmental/subject-level ethics committee should be informed. Formal referral to a departmental/subject-level ethics committee should be pursued where necessary. Conflicts of interest should be satisfactorily addressed, through declarations and/or special safeguards where possible, before activity commences. For research projects, these measures should be considered explicitly as part of the formal approval process.

8 Types of conflict Financial Input from bodies with vested interest in agenda, conduct and/or outcomes Types of input? Potential commercial uses of research outcomes Own financial - use of research as market research

9 Types of conflict Personal –persons who have an interest in agenda, conduct [e.g. recruitment; procurement] or outcomes Political – indirect setting of research agenda Role conflict: Practical & legal conflicts – between research objectives and research subjects Professional – conflicting career development/institutional objectives

10 Effects of conflict On validity or integrity of research Scope/research questions Methods Findings On research subjects On other researchers/students On wider public interest

11 Principles Principles in the ‘Resources for research ethics education’: Comply Avoid Disclose Manage – create safeguards Learn

12 Two scenarios Taken from Columbia University Divide into small groups Reach conclusions about the questions on each scenario Discussion (if time) Answers to take away

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