Back to frontpage

A conflict of interests can occur at any stage of the researcher’s work if the credibility of his/her work or decisions becomes questionable because of competing interests. Decisions not based on the interests of research, use of research resources in private interests, deliberate influencing of the objectivity of decisions, causing deliberate harm to competing researchers or research institutions and more favourable treatment of familiar persons are clearly condemnable. Being aware of potential conflicts of interests is particularly essential as this may be accompanied by the threat of corruption.

The role conflict is a situation where the researcher has to simultaneously consider the conflicting requirements of his/her roles. In addition to being a researcher, the researcher can have other roles in academic or personal life, like being a supervisor, teacher, leader, administrator, expert, populariser of research, parent, spouse, or member of a non-governmental organisation. In these situations, it is very difficult to say which role the researcher should prefer to others. In such cases, it is essential to perform each role as well as possible. Role conflicts tend to grow into conflicts of interests; therefore, they cannot be ignored.


4.1 How to react if a conflict of interests is suspected?

4.1.1 The researcher always reacts if a conflict of interests is suspected in his/her own or colleagues’ activities.

4.1.2 If a conflict of interests is suspected, the researcher avoids solving it alone and, if necessary, asks the colleagues or the research institution for advice how to act in such a situation.

4.1.3 The researcher assesses critically the impact of the conflict of interests on his/her own and the colleagues’ decisions, taking into consideration that not all the conflicts have an inappropriate influence on decisions.

4.1.4 The researcher protects the confidential information that has become known to him/her during the disclosure of a conflict of interests.

4.2 How to act in the case of a conflict of interests that concerns oneself?

4.2.1 The researcher develops awareness of risks related to conflicts of interests and prevents them and does everything depending on him/her to ensure the objectivity of his/her decisions.

4.2.2 The researcher discloses all the conflicts of interests related to research in good time and informs colleagues and cooperation partners about conflicts of interests that can occur during research, at the same time considering the possible restrictions resulting from confidentiality.

4.2.3 As an author, the researcher informs the journal or the publisher about all the monetary or other interests and personal relations that can influence the reliability of the research to be published.

4.2.4 As a reviewer, the researcher informs the journal or the publisher about any circumstances that can influence the impartiality or reliability of his/her review. In the case of a significant conflict of interests, the researcher withdraws from reviewing.

4.2.5 As an expert, the researcher informs the institution asking for expert opinion about any competing or private interests that may compromise his/her independence and impartiality.

4.2.6 In the case of an essential conflict of interests, the researcher resigns from the position of a decision-maker, assessor or expert. If the researcher still continues in the role of a decision-maker or assessor, s/he has to substantiate his/her decision to all the parties honestly and clearly.

4.3 How to create and keep good collegial relations?

4.3.1 The researcher develops awareness of his/her different roles and their requirements and relaxes the tensions resulting from role conflicts, considering the human dignity of all the parties and the principles of research integrity.

4.3.2 As a colleague, the researcher is helpful, polite and considerate to all colleagues and avoids discriminatory and groundlessly different treatment of colleagues.

4.3.3 The researcher as a teacher and supervisor communicates with students and supervisees cooperatively; agrees on how and in which aspects s/he supports the supervisee, supports the supervisee’s development at work and acknowledges the supervisee’s progress.

4.3.4 The researcher regards his/her supervisor(s) and supervisee(s) respectfully, acknowledging and thanking them for their support to the research and personal development of the researcher.

4.4 How to promote critical discussion in the university and in the society?

4.4.1 The researcher assesses critically colleagues’ research and gives substantiated feedback to their work regardless of the colleagues’ academic status, research achievements or work experience.

4.4.2 The researcher acts as an expert only in questions where s/he can rely on scientific knowledge and his/her research, making a difference between personal opinion and expert assessment.

4.4.3 When making presentations to the public, the researcher states clearly whether s/he represents his/her personal views or the official views of the research institution.


4.5 How to prevent and deal with conflicts of interests?

4.5.1 The research institution consciously prevents conflicts of interests when electing or appointing researchers to their posts, allocating resources and acknowledging researchers.

4.5.2 In decisions regarding the institution, the research institution ensures the transparent, impartial and fair solution of conflicts of interests.

4.5.3 The research institution enables all staff members to report confidentially about conflicts of interests.

4.5.4 The research institution creates instructions and guidelines needed for recognising and dealing with conflicts of interests and provides the necessary training.

4.5.5 The research institution establishes common principles defining in which cases the researcher can work in his/her speciality outside the research institution, and for which research done outside the research institution the researcher can ask for remuneration.

4.6 How to create a good work environment?

4.6.1 The research institution supports open and cooperative organisational culture which supports everyone’s development.

4.6.2 The research institution provides favourable conditions to researchers for combining and balancing different roles and obligations.

4.6.3 The research institution ensures a safe work environment and equal treatment to all its staff members, considering any bullying and harassment unacceptable. The research institution establishes a procedure for dealing with breaches of equal treatment and other good collegial relations and bullying at work.



Previous chapter Next chapter

Back to frontpage

Pildil on arutelumängu mängukaardid- ja raamat.

Humanitarian field is also represented at sTARTUp Day

Handbook of Applied Ethics (2023)

Handbook of Applied Ethics


Learning and observance of principles of research integrity is the obligation of every researcher.