The purpose of the Conflict of Interest Disclosure is to document real, perceived, or potential conflicts of interest to ensure that all activities with respect to graduate student education have been reviewed and are deemed to be appropriate, transparent and accurate, pursuant with the Conflicts of Interest for Faculty and Librarians (Policy and Guidelines).
The nature of graduate education results in circumstances where a conflict of interest may arise, particularly concerning evaluation. Examples include, but are not limited to, the assessment of graduate milestone achievements (examinations, theses, or dissertations), the adjudication of admissions, scholarships or awards, and participation in procedures related to academic honesty and petitions. Each of these examples may involve individuals formally affiliated with York (faculty members, researchers, or students) as well as those who are not connected to the university, such as in the case of external readers of theses or dissertations.
The following Conflict of Interest Disclosure process helps ensure fairness in FGS processes, while not impeding the ability of students to succeed at York or externally. It relies on the good faith commitment of faculty to the integrity of processes of graduate evaluation and adjudication in academic matters affecting graduate students across the university.
When to Complete this Form
Individuals involved in processes of evaluation or adjudication in the Faculty of Graduate Studies* are responsible for ensuring that, when required by the relevant activity, process or policy, they do not have a real, perceived, or potential conflict of interest that may impact the integrity of their activities arising from current, previous, or foreseen future relationships with the parties in question. *Individuals involved in program-level activities with local Conflict of Interest Disclosure procedures in place do not need to submit this form.
As required, these individuals must ensure they are at arm’s length from parties in question. “Arm’s length” refers to a relationship which is “conducted between parties that have no corporate or other direct connections, familial or financial relationships with each other, and thus act each in its own self-interest.” The individuals may know or know of each other, but neither can have a relation to each other or each other’s work that might prejudice their assessment positively or negatively.
Individuals may be involved in a potential conflict of interest in situations where there is an expectation of being arm’s length and the individuals are:
- Family members
- Currently or previously engaged in a close personal relationship
- Currently or previously a supervisor or member of a supervisory committee for the current or any other degree
- Currently or previously a supervisee for the current or any other degree
- Currently or recently (within the last six years) a collaborator on a research project and/or publication
- Currently or previously in a relationship (within the last six years) such that any benefit to the student may also directly benefit the faculty member (financial, academic promotion, etc.)
While not exhaustive, the following questions should be considered when determining a conflict of interest in processes of evaluation or adjudication:
- Will I or someone close to me have, or appear to have, anything to gain or lose materially/substantively as a result of decisions within my purview?
- Am I involved in activities that may present, or appear to present, a conflict of commitment as a result of a particular position(s) I currently occupy?
- Will I have access to privileged information as a result of the processes outlined that may be used for private interests?
Situations in which an individual is uncertain about the existence of a relationship that might compromise the expectation to maintain an arm’s-length distance should consult with the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies—firstname.lastname@example.org, CC’ing the relevant resource Faculty Dean.
How this Form will be Processed
Individuals declaring a potential conflict of interest must submit a completed Conflict of Interest Disclosure with Respect to Graduate Student Education Form to the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies—email@example.com, CC’ing the relevant resource Faculty Dean, as early as possible to arrive at an appropriate resolution. An individual is not required to share any information that may compromise their privacy, or the privacy of any party involved.
In the event that the potential conflict of interest involves the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, declaration can be made to an Associate Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
The failure to disclose a conflict prior to evaluation or adjudication which subsequently comes to light may result in the outcomes of the evaluation or adjudication being set aside, and an alternative evaluation process being put in place.
How Information and Decisions will be Communicated and Retained
Submissions will be reviewed by the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the relevant resource Faculty Dean. In many cases, acknowledgement of the disclosure should suffice, as individuals can have a real, perceived, or potential conflict of interest and still be in a position to offer an unbiased opinion.
If, at the discretion of the Dean(s), it is determined that the real, perceived, or potential conflict of interest requires further consideration and/or recusal, next steps will be provided in writing to the individual.
In the event of a disagreement between the individual and the Dean(s), the individual may refer the matter to the Vice-President Academic and Provost for resolution.
Personal information is collected under the authority of the York University Act, 1965 for the purposes of administering conflict of interest disclosure with respect to graduate student education and will be stored in accordance with the Policy on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy. At all times, personal information will be protected, consistent with the privacy requirements set out in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Should you have questions related to about the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information in this notice contact the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org, CC’ing the relevant resource Faculty Dean.
Written records shall be kept as confidential files, for a minimum of 3 years following the initial inquiry.