Broadly speaking, a conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a primary interest has the potential to be inappropriately influenced by a secondary interest. In the sponsored research setting, COI policies focus on situations in which a financial interest and the potential for financial gain may inappropriately influence research decisions.
It is important to recognize that a conflict of interest is a situation, not a behavior. Having a COI is not an accusation of misconduct. There are ethical ways of addressing COI concerns and UNL’s COI program attempts to help researchers do this through the establishment of management plans. For example, a plan may include additional disclosure of the financial interest in publications and presentations as well as informing students involved in the research of the situation. More standard recommendations are available on the COI Policy and Regulations webpage.
To speak with someone about a possible financial conflict of interest, contact Conflict of Interest Staff at (402) 472-6965 or UNLCOI@unl.edu.