Term glossary

Conflict of Commitment. A “Conflict of Commitment” exists when the external activities of an Employee are so substantial or demanding of the staff member’s time and attention as to interfere with the individual’s responsibilities to the unit to which the individual is assigned, to students or to the University.

FCOI. The “FCOI” refers to Financial Conflict of Interest.

Financial Conflict of Interest. “Financial Conflict of Interest” refers to situations in which financial considerations may compromise or have the appearance of compromising, an investigator’s professional judgment in conducting or reporting research. The bias such conflict may conceivably impart not only affects collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, but also the hiring of staff, procurement of materials, sharing of results, choice of protocol, involvement of human participants, and the use of statistical methods. (Task Force on Research Accountability, Report on Individual and Institutional Financial Conflict of Interest, Report and Recommendations, Association of American Universities, October 2001, p. 2.)

Examples of potential financial considerations include salary; equity; stock options; stock warranties; consulting fees; royalty interest; income from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements; income from service on advisory committees or review panels; legal partnerships; gifts to their institutions; and other form of payments to the investigators, key personnel, their spouses, domestic partners and dependent children.

Employee. “Employee” means:
(1) any person possessing either a full-time or part-time appointment at the University. These include the faculty ranks of professor, associate professor, assistant professor (and all of the foregoing whose appointments contain such terms as “Research,” Adjunct,” “Visiting,” or “Clinical,”) instructor, and lecturer, as well as academic professionals and postdoctoral associates.
(2) employees, students, and other individuals identified as key personnel on grant applications, whether salaried or not salaried, who on behalf of the University are responsible for or in a position to influence, the design, conduct or reporting of the research or other scholarly activity.

HIC. The “HIC” refers to the Human Investigation Committee or one of the Institutional Review Boards at the University.

IACUC. The “IACUC” refers to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University.

Significant Financial Interest. “Significant Financial Interest” means anything of monetary value including but not limited to:
(1) an interest in a business consisting of 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 employee does not exercise control; or
(2) receipt of, or the right or expectation to receive, any income in one or more of the following forms: a consulting fee, honoraria, 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 or any other form of compensation.

Institutional Financial Conflict of Interest. “Institutional Financial Conflict of Interest” may occur when the institution, any of its senior management or trustees, or a department, school, or other sub-unit, or an affiliated foundation or organization, has an external relationship or financial interest in a company that itself has a financial interest in a faculty research project. Senior managers or trustees may also have conflicts when they serve on the boards of (or otherwise have an official relationship with) organizations that have significant commercial transactions with the University. The existence (or appearance) of such conflict can lead to actual bias, or suspicion about possible bias, in the review or conduct of research at the University. If they are not evaluated or managed, they may result in choices or actions that are incongruent with the missions, obligations or the values of the University.(Task Force on Research Accountability, Report on Individual and Institutional Financial Conflict of Interest, Report and Recommendations, Association of American Universities, October 2001, p. 10.)

Note: The definition does not apply to affiliated foundations if the structure of the relationship between the University and the foundation effectively eliminates any potential Financial Conflict of Interest on the part of the foundation (e.g. if the foundation simply provides financial support for a particular project through the University and does not retain any direct financial interest in the project.)

Immediate Family. “Immediate Family” means the employee’s spouse or domestic partner and dependent children.

Company. “Company” means any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, business or real estate trust, or any nongovernmental legal entity organized for profit or nonprofit purposes.

Company Position. “Company Position” means holding any executive position or membership on a board regardless of compensation.

Sponsored Programs. “Sponsored Programs" means research, training, and instructional projects involving funds, materials or other compensation from outside sources 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.