Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment, Statement on [February 1, 2007]

University of Toronto Governing Council

Statement on
Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment

February 1, 2007

To request an official copy of this policy, contact:
The Office of the Governing Council

Room 106, Simcoe Hall 27 King’s College Circle University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1A1

Phone: 416-978-6576
Fax: 416-978-8182


The University of Toronto is dedicated to supporting and fostering research, teaching and learning, conceptualized, conducted and reported in accordance with the highest standards of academic integrity. As a leading public institution, the University recognizes that the public relies on the University and its members to uphold those standards.

These standards include freedom from conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment as well as transparency in all processes and relationships, ensuring that the public’s confidence in the University, and in all activities carried out at the University, is maintained.

Continued growth in the variety and complexity of institutional activities, often conducted in partnership with external entities, has placed a renewed emphasis by funding agencies, the public sector, and the University itself on institutional policies and procedures regarding conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment.

The following statement affirms the commitment of the University to the identification and management of real and perceived conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment within a framework defined by the University’s academic mission and its fundamental values.

  1. At the heart of the University lies the commitment to academic freedom, as set out in the University’s Statement of Institutional Purpose. Academic freedom is described in the University’s Statement on Freedom of Speech and in article 5 of the Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Faculty Association.
  2. For academic freedom to have vitality, it is critical to encourage and strive for an environment in which academic activities can be undertaken with appropriate regard for the avoidance of conflicts of interest.
  3. The University’s Policy on Conflict of Interest – Academic Staff and Policy on Conflict of Interest – Librarians describe conflicts of interest and the procedures to be followed when faculty members and librarians engage in professional work from which they derive supplementary income, and establish procedures for other situations which could give rise to apparent conflicts of interest. Other conflict of interest policies, guidelines and practices govern other employee groups at the University. Some members of the University are also governed by related professional standards. Members who obtain research funding from not-for-profit agencies, or who wish to publish research results in scholarly journals or other publications, may also be guided by the policies of those agencies and publishers.
  4. The University also expects of its members the highest standards of ethical conduct in every aspect of research, in accordance with the University’s Policy on Ethical Conduct in Research. In the spirit of these standards and the principles of intellectual integrity, responsibility and accountability set out in the Statement of Institutional Purpose, ethical conduct necessarily requires the full disclosure and mitigation of actual or perceived conflicts of interest by all members engaged in research. Additionally, the University’s policies and procedures with respect to the use of human subjects in research safeguard the rights of those subjects through disclosure of any real or perceived conflicts of interest on the part of the researcher.
  5. The results of University research are fully disclosable in accordance with the University’s Publication Policy. When publishing the finding of research, the Policy on Conflict of Interest – Academic Staff requires faculty members to disclose the source of funding in the publication unless the faculty member has obtained approval to do otherwise. The policies and practices of journals and other publishers may also require disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and the sources of funding for the published research results. These measures safeguard academic integrity and public accountability.
  6. Integrity and honesty in the teaching and learning relationship are also central to the University’s mission. Co-operation in all phases of this relationship is threatened when one member of the relationship forsakes respect for the other in favour of self-interest. These are areas in which teacher and student share a common interest and common responsibilities. The University’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters is concerned with the responsibilities of faculty members and students as they co-operate in all phases of the teaching and learning relationship. Divisional policies and procedures also address the relationship of student and teacher, with a view to minimizing the potential for conflicts of interest and to maximize the benefits to all members in furtherance of the University’s educational mandate.
  7. As an institution in receipt of public funds operating with a high degree of autonomy and self- regulation, the University affirms the importance of financial accountability, the principles of freedom of information and the obligation to conduct its operations as much as possible in ways that are open to public scrutiny. Established University polices and guidelines with respect to financial administration, including procurement, set out procedures for the effective and accountable administration of funds with due regard for the avoidance of conflicts of interest. Further, applicable legislation makes much of the information in the University’s records publicly accessible, balancing the interest of transparency with the need for protection of privacy.

Approved by Governing Council on February 1, 2007

Appendix: Relevant Policies and Statements

Although not an exhaustive list, the following University of Toronto policies and guidelines are relevant to this statement and may be obtained from the Office of the Governing Council, Simcoe Hall, University of Toronto.

Academic Freedom

Access to Information

Conduct of Research

Conflict of Interest

Financial Administration

  • Guide to Financial Management
  • Purchasing Policy

The Teaching / Learning Experience

Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters