A conflict of interest in research exists where an individual may preference, or be perceived to preference, their own interests or obligations over their duties and responsibilities as a researcher. Conflicts of interest may be actual, potential or perceived and involve financial and non-financial benefits.

There are a broad range of research-related activities that may give rise to a conflict of interest. All researchers should expect to have a conflict of interest from time to time. For example, researchers may be asked to peer-review a colleague's work or provide consultancy for a company that also funds their research. The mere existence of a conflict does not imply wrongdoing and in some cases is unavoidable.

Conflicts of interest may affect, or be perceived to affect, a researcher's impartiality and judgement, which can erode confidence in the research. The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) requires researchers to identify, manage and declare circumstances and associations that may give rise to a conflict of interest.

The responsibility for managing and declaring conflicts of interest initially rests with the individual researcher. The University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy and Conflicts of Interest Policy and Procedures require researchers to acknowledge, declare and monitor conflicts of interest. Researchers must also declare relevant conflicts of interest in publications and presentations, in submissions to research ethics committees and as required by outside organisations, such as in applications for funding. 

Additional resources

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) – UQ began transitioning to the 2018 Code in April 2019 (transition details available here)