Carnegie Mellon University

Conflict of Interest


The university's principal missions are the education of students and the generation and dissemination of knowledge. In pursuit of these missions, or as a natural outgrowth of such activities, faculty, staff and students often become involved in outside activities. Investigators also may have outside financial interests. In some circumstances such activities give rise to conflicts of interest. The University must identify and manage situations in which financial interests, other personal interests, or outside activities could bias or compromise – or have the appearance of biasing or compromising – objectivity or judgment relative to scientific research.

Investigators have a professional obligation to act in the best interests of CMU and to ensure that the design, conduct, and reporting of research is free from bias resulting from Investigator financial conflicts of interest or other personal interests and outside activities.

CMU has five policies that address conflicts of interest in research and related issues:

Details of CMU’s processes related to disclosures of financial interests and outside activities in research are outlined in the Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Guidelines [PDF] and Outside Activity (OA) Guidelines [PDF] documents as well as a Quick Reference chart.  Associated guidance may be found here [PDF].

These disclosures can be submitted via the SPARCS COI system.  SPARCS combines the FCOI and OA disclosure processes into a single set of questions.

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is designated as the institutional unit responsible for supporting compliance with regulations and policies related to research activities, including financial conflict of interest requirements.