Identifying Conflicts of Interest

  • October 14, 2023

The higher education community can feel small. Colleagues connect in their graduate programs, during fellowships, collaborative research, and at conferences. A quick Google or LinkedIn search often reveals only a few degrees of separation between you and a seemingly unknown acquaintance.

So what happens when you manage an internal funding opportunity at your institution with conflicts of interest (COI)? Whether it is an unknown relationship with the external sponsoring organization or a friendship with an assigned reviewer, these cases of bias can disrupt and delay the competition management process.

Using InfoReady, administrators have multiple ways of collecting conflict of interest information (or other data) upfront, saving admins valuable time when managing dozens of applications within the same opportunity or competition.

Comments to Administrator

Administrators have the option to activate the Comments to the Administrator text box in both application and review forms. This provides both applicants and reviewers the option of submitting private information that will only seen by the admins managing the opportunity. This is the perfect place for applicants to list any potential reviewers with COI for their proposal, such as mentors or past supervisors. Similarly, reviewers can let administrators know of any potential bias at the time of reviewing a proposal, even recommending that they be removed from the review process.

 

Acknowledgement Statements

Administrators can also remind applicants and reviewers of important policies and procedures by including acknowledgment statements at the end of the relevant form. Before submitting their application or review, the user must check a box confirming they have read and agree to the text included in the statement (e.g. COI or terms & conditions). Hyperlinks added to the text can point to specific university guidelines and policies or full terms and conditions of the opportunity. 

BONUS: It is also a great place to start the reviewer recruitment process for the next award cycle by having applicants agree to be reviewers if they are selected as awardees on the competition.

 

 In the small, interconnected community of higher education, managing conflicts of interest during funding opportunities can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, administrators can manage many of these upfront by directly asking applicants and reviewers for this information, as well as including acknowledgment statements. These two features of InfoReady help facilitate efficient, fair, and transparent processes for all stakeholders.
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