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Conflicts of interest

The Peer Review process is essential in allowing the Research Councils to serve their communities by providing recommendations for funding of world class research.  As the corner stone of grant funding, it is essential that the process be both transparent and objective, and that reviews are conducting in line with the Seven Principles of Public Life. These Principles refer to selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

While the AHRC recognises that is possible for reviewers to objectively assess proposals, putting any personal knowledge of the applicant aside, it is crucial there be no perceived conflict of interest, even where there is none, to protect the integrity of the recommendations made by our college.

It is not possible to list all scenarios due to the complexities of relationships between researchers, especially in niche research areas. Some cases will be clear cut and others will need to be judged on a case by case basis.

Some examples of possible conflicts of interest are listed below. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list; if you are in any doubt about whether or not you should assess a proposal due to a possible conflict, please contact the PRC team before proceeding with the review.

Guidance on Conflicts of Interest where Reviews and Panels are concerned can be found within the AHRC Peer Review Handbook.  Please also refer to the conflicts of interest section of the AHRC's Code of Practice.

Examples of Conflicts of Interest

Type of Conflict







You have been or are currently a member of staff or Professor Emeritus at same Institution as any of the named investigators or Project Partner organisation involved in the project or receive personal remuneration from the institution.


Conflicted if present or within the two years

Formal arrangement as an External PhD Examiner

Conflicted if present or within the past two years.

Relationships to named investigators: Personal & Professional

A close friend or relative of any of the named investigators or named staff on the proposal.


Former PhD Supervisor for any of the named Investigators or named staff of the proposal


You have worked closely or are in close regular collaboration with the named investigators, collaborators and/or project partners.

Conflicted present of within the past five years.

Book/Journal Collaboration

Joint editor or author with any of the named investigators (excluding membership of Journal editorial boards)

Conflicted if present or within the past five years.

Project Collaboration

If you are directly involved in the work proposed by any of the named investigators i.e, you have agreed to be a member on an advisory committee connected with the project.




If you are intending to submit or have already submitted a proposal to any scheme/Call

Within six months of the time, or to the same round, that you are being asked to provide a review for that particular scheme/Call.


Please note that, the restrictions which apply to the Principal Investigator, in terms of research organisation, past research organisation, past collaborations and any other types of conflicts of interest as mentioned above, apply equally to the Co-Investigator(s) on an application.