As researchers and innovators, Brown University faculty and investigators engage in a variety of scholarly, research, and consultative activities that may take them outside the realm of the University. Engaging in such activities and/or establishing relationships with outside commercial and non-commercial entities can provide important support to the University's core mission of conducting leading edge research, student training, and education. Nonetheless, relationships with outside entities raise the concern that financial, fiduciary, and other aspects of these relationships may create real or perceived conflicts of interest or commitment with University duties and responsibilities. These terms are defined below.
There are many different definitions of "conflict of interest". Generally speaking, a conflict of interest occurs when an outside interest compromises, or has the appearance of compromising, the professional judgment of a researcher or faculty member when designing, conducting, or reporting research, when teaching, and when carrying out general University duties and responsibilities.
In addition to conflicts of interest, another type of conflict is a conflict of commitment. This occurs when there is an outside relationship that may interfere with an individual devoting an appropriate amount of time, energy, creativity, or other personal resources to his/her University duties.
Conflicts of interest and commitment are not in and of themselves unethical or impermissible. Indeed, they are often unavoidable and, in many cases, can be appropriately managed or reduced to an acceptable level. However, Brown faculty and researchers should be cognizant of the fact that any outside activity, interest, or interaction with an outside entity has the potential to create conflicts, whether real or perceived. Recognition of potential conflicts, and sensitivity to how personal, financial, and other relationships can be perceived by others, are critical parts of managing conflicts.
- Brown University COI Policy for Officers of Instruction and Reseach
- Special Requirements for PHS Investigators