Types of conflicts and process for resolution
Automatic exclusion from participation in funding decisions
If automatically excluded, absent themselves from the relevant part of any meeting where matters concerning a grant proposal with which they are connected are discussed. They may not take part in any decisions taken in relation to such a grant proposal, and under certain circumstances may not receive any papers relating to it.
Examples of conflicts of interest for scientific and clinical panel members which result in automatic exclusion from participation in funding decisions
a. Financial conflict: anyone who has a direct or indirect financial interest with a grant application submitted to Sarcoma UK, including being connected to it as the business partner of a lead or co-applicant.
b. Applicant and co-applicant(s) conflict: anyone listed as lead applicant or co-applicant on a grant application submitted to Sarcoma UK.
c. Collaborator(s) conflict: anyone listed as a collaborator or having recently collaborated with the listed lead applicant and/or co-applicant(s) in any given grant application submitted to Sarcoma UK. Anyone who has recently worked with a listed collaborator on any given application is not considered conflicted due to the highly collaborative nature of sarcoma as a rare disease research field.
d. Same institution conflict: anyone working in the same institution as the lead applicant or co-applicant(s) listed on a grant application submitted to Sarcoma UK at the time of their commitment to the GRP. Anyone working in the same institution as a collaborator on an application is not considered conflicted due to the highly collaborative nature of sarcoma as a rare disease research field.
Examples of conflicts of interest for lay panel members which result in automatic exclusion
a. Financial conflict: anyone who has a financial or commercial interest in a grant application submitted to Sarcoma UK, including being connected to it as the business partner of a lead or co-applicant.
b. Involvement conflict: anyone who was involved in developing any given application, for instance as a member of a patient panel
c. Patient conflict: where a lead or co-applicant on any given application was involved in the treatment of a given reviewer, or their friend/family member
Exclusion at Sarcoma UK’s discretion
In these situations, the secretariat, or where there is doubt, the secretariat in consultation with the Chair, will determine whether the individual should:
- Take a full part in the meeting
- Be permitted to comment on the application and take part in the discussions but not present the application to the GRP
- Be permitted to comment on the application and participate in discussions but not take part in the decision
- Absent him/herself from the relevant part of the meeting.
Examples of conflicts of interest for scientific and clinical panel members which may result in exclusion at Sarcoma UK’s discretion
a. Competition conflict: anyone who has competitive interest with a grant application submitted to Sarcoma UK that may result in a strong decision bias during the time of their commitment to the GRP.
b. Other funding body conflict: anyone who may have acted as an external referee or served on another Committee in respect of a proposal when it was considered by another funding body.
c. Any other matter that would reasonably be expected to give rise to or be viewed as a conflict of interest (whether academic, scientific, financial or personal}. In this situation the individual concerned should declare the matter to the secretariat before the meeting or as soon as the potential conflict becomes apparent at the meeting.
This is not an exhaustive list; other conflicts of interest not listed here may arise. Sarcoma UK asks potential peer and lay reviewers to use their judgement and declare a conflict of interest they feel may impact their ability to fairly and comprehensively review given a grant application.
Identification and resolution of conflicts of interest
It is up to the panel member to decide whether a conflict of interest could exist, and if so, to declare the conflict. Consideration must be given to how things could appear to others and, in all cases, individuals should err on the side of caution, declaring an interest if there is any possibility that a conflict of interest may exist.
If a conflict is identified, the individual concerned should declare this to the secretariat as soon as possible – ideally, before the panel meeting, or if not possible, as soon as the potential conflict becomes apparent at the meeting. Depending on the nature of the conflict the individual will either be excluded or able to participate in aspects of the meeting as outlined above.
Discussion of applications outside meetings
- Where GRP members feel it necessary to discuss an application prior to the meeting this should be declared to the Chair.
- If an individual is approached by an applicant for advice on an application the individual may provide such advice but must disclose this fact to the secretariat. The individual may be excluded from all or part of the meeting at which the application is considered.
Raising concerns about the conflicts of interest of others
An individual who is concerned about another individual’s potential or actual conflicts of interest should raise the matter as set out below.
- Issues concerning a GRP member should be raised with the Chair or secretariat.
- Issues about Sarcoma UK staff should be raised with the Chair.
- Issues about the Chair should be raised with the Board of Trustees.
Last updated August 2022