A potential conflict of interest occurs when there is a divergence between an individual's private financial interests and his or her professional obligations to the university such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual's professional actions or decisions are influenced by considerations of personal financial gain. In other words, the researcher’s objectivity can be questioned.
In keeping with federal mandates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), other government agencies, and private sponsers, Universities set procedures to safeguard the objectivity of all sponsored programs. Institutions must certify, with each grant application, that they have written guidelines to manage, reduce, or eliminate any financial conflict of interest that could bias a sponsored program. The UM Objectivity in Research Policy defines the terms and details the procedures for dealing with these potential conflicts of interest.
The Objectivity in Research Policy requires that all PIs/PDs, as well as any other personnel involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of research supported by an external sponsor, disclose significant financial interests according to criteria specified by state law and federal and private agency sponsors.
The policy applies to all sponsored programs — research, educational, and service — whether funded by the government or any other source external to the University.
It is the responsibility of the PI/PD to inform his or her research/project team of the requirement to disclose any significant financial interest that may affect the project. Before proposal submission, PIs/PDs and Co-PIs/PDs must complete the UM Transmittal Sheet and its certification regarding whether there is or is not a person who is involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of the project proposed for funding who has a significant financial interest to disclose.
If the PI/PD finds that there is someone involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of the proposed project with a significant financial interest as defined in the Objectivity in Research Policy, the Significant Financial Interest Disclosure Form should be completed and sent to the DIrector of Research Integrity and Compliance, 100 Barr Hall, in a sealed envelope marked 'confidential.'
The disclosure of a significant financial interest in the application process will not delay the processing of a proposal.
Note: The Objectivity in Research Policy is designed to conform to federal regulations. The policy does not eliminate or dilute the more stringent state laws concerning conflicts of interest on the part of public employees. Since each university employee is personally responsible for having knowledge of state laws and abiding by those laws, anyone assessing his or her sponsored research projects for potential conflicts of interest should carefully review the relevant laws of Mississippi.