How we handle conflicts of interest

When researchers review other researchers’ grant applications, there is always a potential risk of conflicts of interest, that is, suspicions of biases may arise. Other than in the peer review process itself, conflict of interest situations might also arise during other stages of the handling of applications. Therefore, everyone who handles applications must follow the Swedish Research Council’s conflict of interest policy and guidelines.

The Swedish Administrative Procedure Act and our conflict of interest policy regulate the work

According to the objectivity principle, public agencies must be objective and impartial and protect everyone's equality before the law. The Administrative Procedure Act (Förvaltningslagen, SFS 2017:900) states that a person

  • who is aware of a circumstance that can be assumed to disqualify them must immediately notify the authority of this.
  • who is disqualified must not take part in the processing of the matter and must not be present when the matter is determined either.

The Swedish Research Council has a policy and a number of guidelines for managing conflicts of interest. The guidelines describe what the agency must do to prevent, assess and manage conflicts of interest.

Everyone who works with research grant applications – reviewers, decision-makers, and the Swedish Research Council 's employees – must know and comply with the conflict of interest policy and the guidelines. Objective and impartial handling of applications is important for ensuring that it is the best research ideas which receive funding.

Examples of when conflict of interest situations may arise are when a reviewer:

  • has themselves applied for a research grant or may in any way be affected by the grant decision has a close relation who has applied for a research grant or may be affected by the grant decision in some other way.
  • has an ongoing or recently concluded close collaboration with an applicant (the relationship between a doctoral student and a supervisor is considered to be a lifelong conflict of interest).

What happens when someone has a conflict of interest?

A person who has a disqualifying conflict of interest must not take part in the handling of the application in question. When the application is handled by a review panel, a scientific council or a committee, the person with a conflict of interest must not be present. If a member of a review panel has submitted a research grant application, another review panel must handle the application.

The Swedish Research Council always documents disqualifying conflicts of interests, and also when a potential conflict of interest situation has been considered but found not to be problematic.

The Swedish Research Council’s conflict of interest policy Pdf, 210.7 kB. (pdf, 210.7 kB)

The Swedish Research Council’s guidelines for the management of conflicts of interest Pdf, 134.3 kB.(pdf, 320.9 kB)




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