CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND CONFLICT OF COMMITMENT [GP 37]
May 31, 2007
May 19, 2022
May 19, 2027
Policy Authorities: Vice-President, Research and International; Vice-President Academic and Provost
Associated Procedures: Procedures for Disclosing and Assessing Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment; Procedures Pertaining to Financial COI in US Public Health Service Funded Research
A conflict of interest (“COI”) occurs when two or more duties, responsibilities or interests of an individual (or institution) are in conflict – in that one cannot be fulfilled without compromising the other. Personal commitments, relationships or investments, for example, might potentially interfere with the independent judgement required to make fair purchasing or hiring decisions for the University or in a research project.
These conflicts can be real, potential or perceived, and anticipating the perception of COI is critical to its effective management. COI must be brought out into the open in order to be addressed. Whether the perception reflect a real conflict or not, disclosure of the issue and implementation of a management plan is always necessary to ensure fairness and the appearance of fairness. It may turn out that the matter is manageable through, for example, a change in process or a clear declaration. It may also turn out that the two activities are not compatible, and one must cease. This determination must be made by a third party because, by definition, the person making the disclosure has a biased point of view.
Conflicts of commitment (“COC”) focus on a person’s external professional, business, or personal activities and time commitments that may affect their ability to meet commitments or obligations to the University. COC is managed in a similar manner to COI.
This policy provides a framework for members of the university community to disclose conflicts of commitment and real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest so that they can be assessed and managed in a way that protects the integrity and reputation of the University and the persons involved. This policy requires members of the university community to promptly disclose conflicts of interest to the designated Responsible Authority. The Responsible Authority will assess the conflict and determine whether the activity or situation, or the Member’s involvement in it, can be managed responsibly and continue, or must cease, and will establish any terms and conditions that must be followed. Conflicts of commitment are assessed in a similar manner to conflicts of interest. Failure to disclose, or to otherwise abide by this policy, may result in disciplinary measures. Failure to disclose conflicts of interest in research may constitute a breach of Policy R60.01 Responsible Conduct of Research.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3.0 SCOPE AND JURISDICTION
6.0 ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
8.0 RELATED LEGAL, POLICY AUTHORITIES AND AGREEMENTS
9.0 ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY
10.0 RETENTION AND DISPOSAL OF RECORDS
11.0 POLICY REVIEW
12.0 POLICY AUTHORITY
14.0 PROCEDURES AND OTHER ASSOCIATED DOCUMENTS
1.1 Simon Fraser University (“the University”) strives to carry out its teaching, research, and public service mission in accordance with the highest ethical standards and in a manner that promotes public confidence in its activities.
1.2 Conflicts can arise from a University Member’s engagement inside the University and their activities outside the University. The mere existence of conflict is not necessarily improper but, to maintain public trust and confidence, Conflicts of Interest (“COI”) and Conflicts of Commitment (“COC”) must be recognized, disclosed, assessed and addressed.
1.3 While the University respects the right of its Members to privacy in their personal activities and financial affairs, all real, potential, and perceived COI and COC must be disclosed promptly so the activity or situation can be addressed in an open, fair, consistent, and practical manner.
1.4 Just as with its Members, the University itself may be faced with Institutional Conflict of Interest: a conflict between at least two substantial institutional obligations that cannot be adequately fulfilled without compromising one or both obligations. Universities hold trust relationships with research participants, research sponsors, researchers and society. At times, financial or reputational interests may conflict with these obligations, potentially undermining public trust in the ability of the institution to carry out its missions, operations and ethical responsibilities in research.
1.5 Conflicts that are not disclosed, or are disclosed but improperly managed, may threaten the reputation and integrity of the persons involved and, potentially, the reputation of the University as a whole.
2.1 This policy provides a framework for the disclosure, assessment, and management of Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment.
3.1 Except as outlined in section 3.2, this policy applies to all Members of the university community, and to all situations in which a Member’s activities may give rise to a COI or COC, regardless of whether those activities are internal or external to SFU.
3.2 This policy does not apply to Members serving on the Board of Governors (“Board”) or its committees, in so far as they are engaged in the official business of the Board. Such Members are governed by and must comply with the Rules of the Board of Governors (B10.01) and the Board Guidelines and Guidelines for Individual Board Members (B10.10).
3.3 Individuals participating in University committees, boards or panels, must also comply with any additional COI obligations as set out in the applicable terms of reference. There may also be specific additional COI or COC obligations for individuals required by Funding Organizations.
4.1 See Appendix A for the definitions of words used in this policy and its associated procedures.
5.1 The University will address COI and COC expeditiously.
5.2 A Member who engages in an activity or situation that creates or results in a real, potential or perceived COI or COC shall disclose it promptly and accurately to the designated Responsible Authority (See Appendix A).
5.3 Each disclosure of a COI or COC shall be assessed by the designated Responsible Authority. The Responsible Authority will determine whether the activity or situation, or the Member’s involvement in it, must cease or whether it is authorized to continue, provided that the COI or COC can be responsibly managed.
5.4 The Member shall not engage in, or continue, the activity or situation giving rise to the COI or COC until the designated Responsible Authority has assessed whether the activity or situation, or the Member’s involvement in it, is authorized and, if so, has indicated how the COI or COC will be managed.
5.5 A Member who knows, or who should reasonably know, that they are in a COI or COC, and who fails to comply with this policy may be subject to disciplinary measures. Failure to disclose Conflicts of Interest in research may constitute research misconduct, as addressed in Policy R60.01.
5.6 Any real, potential or perceived Institutional Conflicts of Interest that may affect research participants shall be reported to the Research Ethics Board (“REB”). The REB shall determine how the conflict shall be managed.
6.1 Each Member of the University community is responsible for:
6.1.1 familiarizing themselves with this policy and maintaining currency in COI/COC definitions and management through appropriate training;
6.1.2 managing and assessing their activities internal to SFU and their activities external to SFU to avoid COI and COC;
6.1.3 disclosing, promptly and accurately, all real, potential, or perceived COI or COC;
6.1.4 acting promptly to remedy COI or COC where they exist;
6.1.5 following the terms and conditions of an approved COI/COC management plan; and
6.1.6 annually reviewing and updating, as needed, their COI and COC disclosure status.
6.2 In departmentalized Faculties, the Department Chair is responsible for assisting the Member in developing a proposed management plan for the COI or COC and for monitoring the implementation of an approved management plan.
6.3 In non-departmentalized Faculties, an associate dean is responsible for assisting the Member in developing a proposed management plan for the COI or COC and for monitoring the implementation of an approved management plan.
6.4 The Responsible Authority is responsible for assessing both research-related and non-research-related disclosures and making a ruling as to whether:
6.4.1 the proposed management plan is sufficient to authorize the activity to continue;
6.4.2 the proposed management plan requires revision, or
6.4.3 the Member’s involvement in the activity and/or the activity itself must cease.
6.5 Where COI or COC is disclosed in a non-academic department or unit, the Responsible Authority is, in addition to the responsibilities assigned under section 6.4.1, responsible for assisting the Member in developing a management plan for the COI or COC and for monitoring its implementation.
Vice-President Academic and Provost and Vice-President Research and International
6.6 The Vice-President Academic and Provost is normally responsible for determining an appeal of a Responsible Authority’s ruling about a non-research related disclosure of COI or COC.
6.7 The Vice-President Research and International is normally responsible for determining an appeal of a Responsible Authority’s ruling about a research-related disclosure of COI or COC where the research does not involve human participants.
Research Ethics Board
6.8 For research-related disclosures of COI or COC, where the research involves human participants, the SFU Research Ethics Board (“REB”) is the decision-making authority as required by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.
6.9 Where the research involves human participants, the REB is responsible for determining whether a COI or COC exists and, if so, whether and how the COI or COC can be minimized and managed, or whether the activity, or the Member’s involvement in it, must cease.
6.10 The REB is responsible for reviewing disclosures of Institutional Conflicts of Interest that may affect research participants made by University’s signing officers, as designated in Policy B10.11, or by any other person. The REB is responsible for determining how the Institutional Conflict of Interest shall be managed, such as through disclosure to prospective participants as part of the consent process.
6.11 The decision of the Research Ethics Board shall be final, except where subject to the appeal process detailed in the University’s Policy R20.01, Ethics Review of Research Involving Human Participants.
7.1 Subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Vice-President Research and International (or designate) shall be responsible for reporting COI and COC to any internal or external body as may be required to fulfil the University’s legal, contractual, or other obligations, including the requirements of a Funding Organization.
8.1 The legal and other University Policy authorities and agreements that may bear on the administration of this policy and may be consulted as needed include but are not limited to:
8.1.1 University Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 468
8.1.2 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 165
8.1.3 Code of Faculty Ethics and Responsibilities (A30.01)
8.1.4 Rules of the Board of Governors (B 10.01)
8.1.5 Board Guidelines and Guidelines for Individual Board Members (B10.10)
8.1.6 Protected Disclosure of Wrongdoing (GP 41)
8.1.7 SFU’s Information Policy series (I.10)
8.1.8 Responsible Conduct of Research (R60.01)
8.1.9 Ethics Review of Research Involving Human Participants (R20.01)
8.1.10 Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education and Support (GP 44)
8.1.11 Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans
8.1.12 Collective agreements and relevant human resources and employment policies.
9.1 The information and records made and received to administer this policy are subject to the access to information and protection of privacy provisions of British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the University’s Information Policy series.
10.1 Information and records made and received to administer this policy are evidence of the University’s actions to identify, and where appropriate to manage or to resolve Conflicts of Interest and Conflicts of Commitment. Information and records must be retained and disposed of in accordance with a records retention schedule approved by the University Archivist.
11.1 This policy must be reviewed every 5 years and may always be reviewed as needed.
12.1 This policy is administered under the joint authority of the Vice-President, Research and International and the Vice-President Academic and Provost.
13.1 Questions of interpretation or application of this policy or its procedures shall be referred to the President whose decision shall be final.
14.3 The procedures for this policy are: