Office of Research EthicsWaseda University

Conflict of Interest Management

Waseda University takes appropriate measures to manage conflict of interest, with the aim of preventing the occurrence of negative effects (for example, the introduction of bias into the results of publicly-funded research) as well as promoting soundness in Industry-Academic-Government Cooperation and other activities at the University, so that faculty and staff can engage in research activities with peace of mind. This can be achieved through appropriate management of conflict of interests which may arise during the daily conduct of Industry-Academic-Government Cooperation, and other activities related to publicly-funded research, by the faculty and staff.

When members of the university faculty or staff conduct Industry-Academic-Government Cooperation, and other activities with outside corporations/organizations (e.g., joint research, commissioned research, or donations), there have been a number of cases where these relationships involve financial interests (such as a member of the faculty or staff assuming a position as executive officer, holding shares, or accepting significant compensation).

However, the goals and roles of the university are different from those of corporations/organizations; as the university conducts research and offers higher education with the aim of searching for truth, while corporations/organizations engage in activities for profit. Thus, there could be a situation wherein conflicts arise between the interests of the faculty or staff member in their relationship with a corporation/organization, and that member’s responsibility to the university. The situation described above is a “conflict of interest” (see Note).

Although the relationships of financial interest with corporations should not be assessed as being categorically negative, there are legitimate concerns that conflicts of interest may have concrete negative effects. The negative effects of conflicts of interest include not only actual instances of harm but also the risk of occurrence thereof, or the appearance of the occurrence thereof from the perspective of third parties.

(Note) 
The following three situations are collectively referred to as “conflicts of interest”:

  1. Conflicts of interest in terms of the individual (private interests of the individual vs. his/her responsibility to the university (research/education)
  2. Conflicts of interest in terms of the university (interests of the university vs. the university’s social mission)
  3. Conflicting duties (responsibility of an individual to perform duties for third parties vs. his/her responsibility to perform duties at the university)

At present, Waseda University is targeting the management of “conflict of interest in terms of the individual” (item (i) above) that may occur when faculty and staff conduct research with compensation of public research funds (publicly funded research).

As a part of adapting intellectual achievements to benefit society, universities promote Industry-Academic-Government Cooperation and other activities. Consequently, the possibility of Conflicts of Interest occurring may increase. Since Conflict of Interest may occur routinely in the course of Industry-Academic-Government Corporation activities, control based on concrete samples or criteria is not practical, unlike in the case of legal violations.

If a university fails to take measures to avoid situations that result inCconflicts of Interest as described above, negative effects may proliferate, causing society to lose confidence in the faculty and staff of the university, thereby actually interfering with the promotion of Industry-Academic-Government Cooperation and other activities. Especially when the negative effects resulting from Conflicts of Interest concern “publicly-funded research,” society will hold the university accountable.

To avoid such problems, it is important to conduct organizational management of Conflict of Interest involving faculty and staff so as to prevent negative effects before they happen, and to promote healthy Industry-Academic-Government Cooperation activities so that faculty and staff can engage in such collaborative activities with peace of mind.

Specifically, faculty and staff must first share with the university any information concerning their financial interests in any corporations/organizations related to their research activities. If such information is shared, if later there are suggestions from society of Conflicts of Interest concerning faculty or staff, the university will be in a position to assume its share of the responsibility for explaining the situation to external parties and reduce the accountability of the individual involved.

Regarding Health and Labour Sciences Research, there is an obligation to report the implementation status of Conflict of Interest management to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Conflict of Interest Management Committee

(1) Targets of management

Relationships involving the financial interests of full-time faculty and staff of the University serving as research representatives or research collaborators in publicly-funded research to related corporations/organizations

※Relationships of financial interest include those concerning not only the researchers personally, but also relationships of financial interest involving spouses or first-degree family members living together with those researchers.

(2) Management method

(i) Receipt of reports on relationships of financial interest from faculty and staff concerned
[periodically (once per year) and as need arises (e.g. when there is a change in the description of reportable content)]
(ii) Screening by the Committee based on such reports (including confirmation of report content, advice, and inspection)
(iii) Notice of the results of screening
(iv) Improvements requested of the concerned faculty and staff, if deemed necessary by the Committee as a result of screening
(Receipt and screening of written objections regarding the above, as well as notification of the results of such deliberation)

Conflict of Interest Prevention Advisors

A Conflict of Interest (COI) Prevention advisor (lawyer) offers consultations to the faculty and staff, dispensing necessary advice or information accordingly.

Please download here.

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