Conflicts of interest - MRC

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has adopted a code of practice for all those who assist in our work, which embraces the seven principles of public life drawn up by the Nolan Committee and endorsed by the UK Parliament. An important aspect of this code is the avoidance and management of conflicts of interest to ensure the integrity of UKRI’s decisions and those of our representatives.

UKRI defines a conflict of interest as a situation in which an individual’s ability to exercise judgement or act in one role is, could be, or is seen to be impaired or otherwise influenced by their involvement in another role or relationship.

Read the UKRI declaration of interests policy and guidance.

Managing conflicts of interest

It is vital that all assessors (both reviewers and panellists) are seen to be completely impartial at all stages of the grant assessment process. You should not take part in the assessment of any application where a conflict of interest may be construed. Even a perception of competing interests, impaired judgement or undue influence may be damaging to UKRI’s reputation.

All Medical Research Council (MRC) assessors are asked to declare conflicts of interest in line with the UKRI policy.

For reviewers

It is important that you ensure you are eligible to review the application before undertaking the review. A list of conflicts that exclude you from reviewing a proposal can be found in the UKRI policy. However, this is not exhaustive. MRC endeavours to identify conflicts of interest and will not select you as a reviewer if there is a clear conflict. Not all conflicts are obvious from the information we have available.

If you believe you may have a conflict of interest or are in any doubt as to whether you should review an application, please contact us at

For panellists

MRC will ensure panellists are not allocated any application as a board or panel assessor if a conflict of interest has been identified with that application. If you identify a conflict we are not aware of, or if we have missed a potential conflict of interest, you must communicate this to the relevant board or panel operation team as soon as possible.

During a board or panel meeting, you may be asked to leave the room for the entirety of the discussion of applications with identified conflicts and not participate in the scoring or ranking of the application.

Additionally, where you have a known conflict of interest, you may not be able to access any application assessment information, such as reviewer comments, relating to the application concerned.

Last updated: 9 November 2023

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