When conducting research, you may need to think about potential conflicts of interest. But what is a conflict of interest? This post will explain the basics of what conflicts of interest are, why they are important in the research world, and why you may need to declare them in your work.\r\nWhat Is a Conflict of Interest?\r\nThe "interest" in the term "conflict of interest" isn\u2019t just what we mean when we say someone is "interested in" (i.e., curious about) something. Rather, it is more like we see in "business interests" or "vested interests."\r\nIn other words, an "interest" is a commitment, involvement, or connection to something. And in the scientific world, a conflict of interest is any connection or investment that may undermine your research.\r\nThe issue is that science aims for objectivity. And the desire to produce objective results is a governing "interest" of scientific research. Thus, if you have a connection or relationship that could impair your objectivity \u2013 or even just give the impression of bias \u2013 it could be a problem.\r\nTypes of Conflicts of Interest\r\nConflicts of interest can be either financial or non-financial.\r\nFinancial conflicts are related to commercial interests. This can include:\r\n\r\n\tHow a study was funded (e.g., if research is sponsored by a business whose product sales may rely on the outcomes of your work, such as tobacco companies funding studies related to smoking).\r\n\tDirect financial benefits received by researchers from organizations with an interest in their work (e.g., if a researcher also works for a company that stands to gain from a specific set of results).\r\n\r\nNon-financial conflicts of interest, meanwhile, can involve:\r\n\r\n\tPolitical or religious affiliations (e.g., seeking results that justify a particular government policy or promote a specific moral world-view).\r\n\tPersonal connections (e.g., wanting to support a colleague\u2019s theory).\r\n\tInvolvement in legal action connected to the work.\r\n\r\nIn other words, there are many things that can constitute a conflict of interest! And researchers need to be aware of these possibilities.\r\nDeclaring Your Interests\r\nUndeclared conflicts of interest can call your results into question. It doesn\u2019t even matter if your work was genuinely biased: just the perception of a conflict of interests can lead to damaged reputations or loss of funding.\r\nIt is, therefore, important to declare any conflicts of interest when you submit your research for publication. The exact procedure for this will depend on your situation, but most organizations will have some guidelines. Some will even have a template "disclosure statement" you can use.\r\nWhen you come to submit your work, then:\r\n\r\n\tNote any personal or financial relationships that could be seen to affect your research, even if they\u2019re not directly related to the study.\r\n\tCheck what the organization you\u2019re submitting to (e.g., the university or academic journal) says about declaring interests.\r\n\tFollow these guidelines carefully and draft a declaration of interests.\r\n\r\nEven if you cannot think of a single possible source of bias, you will usually need to submit a declaration. In this case, though, you will simply say that there are no conflicts of interest you wish to declare.\r\nExpert Academic Proofreading\r\nAt Proofed, we are experts at proofreading academic work. To make sure your writing is clear and easy to read, get in touch today.\r\nYou can even upload a free 500-word sample document for proofreading to see what our services involve before you pay a penny.