Responsible Conduct of Research

Conflict of Interest Policy

Bradley University and its employees are committed to conducting all external and internal professional relationships in a manner that meets the highest standards of integrity and ethics. The University strongly encourages and participates in interaction with both the public and private sectors as an important component of its research, education, and public service activities. The University also recognizes the potential for conflicts of interest due to the nature and scope of the activities engaged in by the University and its academic employees. Conflict of interest arises when there is a divergence between an academic employee’s private interests and his or her professional obligations to the University. A conflict of interest may exist when an independent observer reasonably questions whether the academic employee’s professional judgments in carrying out University activities are affected by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise, of the academic employee, any family member, or any associated entity. This Conflict of Interest Policy outlines the procedures for reviewing potential and addressing identified conflicts of interest, and assuring that University activities remain above reproach in appearance and fact.

This policy requires that each academic employee disclose those financial interests that may reasonably appear to create a potential for conflict between the University’s and the academic employee’s interests. This disclosure will be made in writing to authorized University representatives. The existence of a potential conflict of interest does not in any way imply that wrong-doing has occurred.

NOTE: Activities and external relationships that have a potential for conflict of interest and must be disclosed include, but are not limited to:

  • an academic employee requesting funding for or participating in research, the development of a technology, process, or product that could impact a business in which the academic employee, a member of the employee’s family, or an associated entity has more than a 5% ownership interest or financial interests whose fair market value exceeds $10,000;
  • an academic employee using University resources, e.g., facilities, students, etc., for projects benefiting a business in which the academic employee, a member of the employee’s family, or an associated entity has more than a 5% ownership interest or financial interests whose fair market value exceeds $10,000;
  • an academic employee requesting funding for a sponsored project from a business in which the academic employee, a member of the employee’s family, or an associated entity has more than a 5% ownership interest or financial interests whose fair market value does not exceed $10,000;
  • an academic employee receiving support for a project sponsored by a business in which the academic employee, or a member of the employee’s family, serves on the board;
  • an academic employee holding an executive position in a business engaged in commercial or research activities directly related to the employee’s University responsibilities;
  • an academic employee taking any administrative action on behalf of the University that is beneficial to:
    • a business in which the academic employee, a member of the employee’s family, or an associated entity has more than a 5% ownership interest or financial interests whose fair market value exceeds $10,000;
    • a sponsor/donor organization in which the academic employee, a member of the employee’s family, or associated entities has more than a 5% ownership interest or financial interests whose fair market value exceeds $10,000.

Disclosure Requirements/Annual Disclosure

The Conflict of Interest Policy requires all investigators (principal investigator, co-principal investigators), and any other persons at the University who are responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or educational activities, funded or proposed for funding, to certify, on the Extramural Funding Transmittal Form, the absence of a conflict of interest. If this certification is not affirmed, the academic employee must file a Financial Disclosure Form (FDF) within 15 days of signing the Transmittal Form. The FDF may be obtained from OSP. The FDFs must be updated during the activity, either on an annual basis, or within 30 days, as new reportable financial interests occur. The FDF forms shall be retained for at least three years after the termination of the activity.

The FDF Review

The initial or updated FDFs shall be sent, in sealed envelopes, to the Department Chairperson, Dean, Managing Director of Sponsored Programs, and, if applicable, to the Institute/Center Director. Together, these individuals shall review the disclosure and either rule no conflict of interest, or propose, in accordance with this policy, appropriate actions to eliminate the conflict. The above named FDF reviewers may require the employee to submit additional clarifying information regarding the activity under review. If any administrative officer referred to herein has a conflict of interest in a case, then the next highest administrative officer will assume the responsibilities indicated, or will appoint some other person to do so. All academic employees must temporarily excuse themselves from any review process that is considering an activity in which they have a financial interest as defined above.

Actions to Eliminate the Conflict

If a conflict of interest exists, conditions or restrictions must be implemented to manage, reduce, or eliminate the conflict. Funding for the activity will be withheld until the conflict has been addressed. Examples of actions might include, but are not limited to:

  • public disclosure of financial interests;
  • monitoring of the activity by independent reviewers;
  • modification of the activity plan;
  • creation of a blind trust covering the financial interests that gave rise to the potential conflict of interest;
  • disqualification from participation in the portion of the activity that would be affected by financial interests;
  • divestiture of financial interests;
  • severance of relationships that create conflicts.

Conflict of Interest Committee

Should the academic employee not submit the required information, or comply with the conditions or restrictions proposed, or disagree with the conditions or restrictions proposed by the FDF signatories, the academic employee or the FDF signatories may request the Senate Executive Committee convene a Conflict of Interest Committee. The charge to the Conflict of Interest Committee is to help guard academic employees and the University from engaging in activities where the risk to integrity and reputation, as a result of an external relationship, outweighs the value of the activity to academic and societal goals. Relevant factors for the Conflict of Interest Committee to consider include:

  • does a conflict of interest exist;
  • the size of the financial interest;
  • when the relationship commenced.

Within 30 days of its formation, the Conflict of Interest Committee will either endorse the recommendations of the FDF signatories or suggest a different course of action. In either case, the Committee shall submit a plan for managing the conflict to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, who will approve or recommend revisions in the plan. After a plan has been agreed to by the Committee and the Provost, the Committee shall request compliance by the academic employee. If the academic employee disagrees with the plan, the academic employee may appeal, within 15 days, to the President of the University. If the conflict of interest cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the funding agency will be notified if requested or required by the agency. If sanctions are appropriate, they will be imposed in accordance with the Faculty Handbook.

Committee Composition & Operating Procedures

The Committee will consist of the Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate School, three faculty members selected by the Executive Committee of the Senate, and a person appointed by the Vice President for Business Affairs. The Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate School shall be responsible for the recording and safekeeping of a detailed record of the Committee meetings and actions. The faculty member may choose to retain an advisor and/or counsel at the faculty member’s expense, however, the advisor and/or counsel shall not be permitted to be present in the hearing room or to speak on behalf of the faculty member. Confidentiality concerning the case shall be maintained. When no conflict of interest is determined to exist, all documentation relating to the case shall be destroyed, except for the FDF which shall be retained until at least three years after the termination of the activity.

Compliance

The University expects academic employees to comply fully and promptly with all the requirements of this policy.

Definition of Terms

  1. Academic employee means a University employee who ultimately reports to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  2. Associated entity means any trust, organization, or enterprise over which the academic employee, alone or together with his/her family, exercises a controlling interest.
  3. Business means any corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, business or real estate trust, or any other non governmental legal entity organized for profit, not-for-profit, or charitable purposes.
  4. Executive position refers to any position that includes responsibilities for a significant segment of the operation or management of a business.
  5. Family of an academic employee includes both immediate family and extended family. Immediate family includes the academic employee’s spouse or domestic partner, and children who qualify as dependents for tax purposes. Extended family includes children who do not qualify as dependents for tax purposes, parents, and siblings.
  6. Participate means to be part of the described activity in any capacity, including, but not limited to, serving as the principal investigator, co-investigator, research collaborator, or provider of direct services or patient care. The term is not intended to apply to individuals who provide primarily technical support or who are purely advisory, with no direct access to the data (e.g., control over its collection or analysis) or, in the case of research with human subjects, to the study participants, unless they are in a position to influence the study’s results or have privileged information as to the outcome.
  7. Financial interest means anything of monetary value, including, but not limited to:
    • any stock, stock option, or similar ownership interest in such business, but excluding any interest arising solely by reason of investment in such business by a mutual, pension, or other institutional investment fund over which the academic employee does not exercise control; or
    • receipt of, or the right or expectation to receive, any income from such business whether in the form of a fee (e.g. consulting), salary, allowance, forbearance, forgiveness, interest in real or personal property, dividend, royalty derived from the licensing of technology or other processes or products, rent, capital gain, real or personal property, or any other form of compensation, or any combination thereof.
    • NOTE: The term does not include:
      1. salary, royalties, or other remuneration received from Bradley;
      2. any ownership interests in an affiliate or subsidiary of the institution, if these entities are applicants under the small business innovation research program or small business technology transfer program;
      3. income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by public or non-profit entities;
      4. income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or non-profit entities;
      5. an equity interest that, when aggregated for the academic employee and the academic employee’s spouse and dependent children, meets both of the following tests: does not exceed $10,000 in value as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value, and does not represent more that 5% ownership interest in any single entity;
      6. salary, royalties or other payments that, when aggregated for the academic employee and the academic employee’s spouse and dependent children, are not expected to exceed $10,000 during the twelve month period.
  8. Sponsored projects means activities involving funds, materials, or other compensation from outside sources granted or contracted to the University under agreements that contain any of the following: the agreement binds the University to a line of scholarly or scientific inquiry specified to a substantial level of detail; a line-item budget is involved; financial reports are required; the award is subject to external audit; unexpended funds must be returned to the sponsor at the conclusion of the project; or the agreement provides for the disposition of either tangible or intangible properties that may result from the activity.