COI Frequently Asked Questions

This video is provided by Ethics Unwrapped and is a free educational resource from The University of Texas at Austin

What is a conflict of interest?

  • A conflict of interest is any situation or relationship (personal, professional, commercial or financial) that may compromise or appear to compromise a covered individual's professional judgment in carrying out their institutional activities because of an external relationship/interest of the employee or the immediate family members.

What is a Financial Disclosure form and where is it located?

  • The Financial Disclosure form is the mechanism in which investigators at Mississippi State University disclose their Significant Financial Interests so the University can determine if a financial conflict of interest exists.

  • It can be found in eForms which is located in your MyState portal.

Form screenshot

Who must submit a Financial Disclosure Form?

  • Any investigator who has submitted a proposal for federal funding research or is involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of a federally funded research program.

  • And anyone who has a significant financial interest in an entity that overlaps with their external funding,regardless if it is federal or not.

What must be disclosed on the Financial Disclosure form?

  • Any Significant Financial Interest that you or your immediate family has.

  • Information regarding participation in a Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Program.

  • Other Support

Can I see my old FCOI forms?

  • Yes. If you go to eForms and click on ‘eForms Search' you can look for all the eForms you submitted within the date range you specify. If you specify a Document Type, it will only pull up that type of form which will help narrow down what you are looking for, the FCOI form being one of them.

What is a Significant Financial Interest?

A "Significant Financial Interest" means a financial interest consisting of one or more of the following that is related to your Institutional Responsibility (professional expertise):

  • $5,000 or more in salary, consulting fees, advisory board fees, remuneration, honoraria, gifts, or "in kind" compensation from an outside entity in the past 12 months.
  • $5,000 or more in equity or ownership interest (including stock options) in a publicly-traded company.
  • Any equity or ownership interest in a private company (e.g., start-up company).
  • An appointment to serve in a fiduciary role (director, officer, partner, trustee, or any position of management) for an outside company whether or not remuneration is received.
  • Receipt of patent/copyright licensing fees or royalties from an outside entity.
  • Any travel that is sponsored or reimbursed by an outside entity.
  • Any compensation whose value could be affected by the outcome of research conducted at MSU.

What is a Malign Government Talent Recruitment Program?

  • A "Malign Government Talent Recruitment Program" is a program sponsored by some foreign governments or affiliates with distinguishing features that generally include compensation and recruitment.

What is Other Support?

  • "Other Support" includes all outside resources (from foreign and domestic entities) directly supporting your research endeavors, regardless of whether or not they have monetary value. This includes (but is not limited to):

    • Titled academic, professional, or institutional appointments whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary).

    • Research resources such as personnel, lab space, scientific materials, or high-value materials that are not freely available (e.g., biologics, chemical, model systems, technology, etc.).

When do I have to file my Financial Disclosure form?

  • Before you apply for federal research funding and annually as long as the project is active.

When do I have to update my Financial Disclosure form?

  • Annually or within 30 days of obtaining a new significant financial interest

How can I find out if my training or disclosure form has expired?

You can find a listing of all training including your disclosure form here:

Are there financial interest that I do not have to disclose?

  • Salary or other remuneration received from Mississippi State University, including salary received from external sources through sponsored agreements administered by the University;

  • Intellectual property rights assigned to Mississippi State University and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights;

  • Standard royalties received for published scholarly work or other professional writings;

  • Income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles;

  • Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education;

  • Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20

  • U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education; or

  • Travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education.

If I have outside employment, is that a Significant Financial Interest?

If your outside employment is related to your institutional responsibilities (what you do on behalf of MSU) and you received more than $5,000in the 12 months prior to your disclosure date, then it is a Significant Financial Interest and should be listed on your Financial Disclosure Form.

Remember that you must also get approval for Outside Employment through the Outside Employment Request Form in eForms. Submitting a Financial Disclosure Form does not grant approval for outside employment activities nor does submitting an Outside Employment Approval Request Form satisfy the FCOI disclosure requirements!

I see that my Financial Disclosure form has been filed as positive/negative. What does that mean?

  • A positive disclosure form means that you have a significant financial interest that could have the potential to be a financial conflict of interest. This just lets OSP know to contact us when you apply for a federal grant.

  • A negative disclosure form means that you did not list any outside relationships.

Who determines if I have a conflict of interest?

  • Each time you submit a proposal, your disclosure form is reviewed by the Office of Research Compliance & Security to determine if there is overlap with the project.

Can I still conduct the research if I have a conflict of interest?

  • Yes. If it is determined that a conflict exists, a Management Plan will be created to ensure that a researcher's personal interest in the outside entity does not compromise or appear to compromise his/her objectivity in performing the research project, mentoring students involved in the research project, or reporting the results of the project.

What is a Management Plan?

  • If it is determined that a conflict of interest exists, a Management Plan will be created to manage the conflict. All approved Management Plans are developed, reviewed, approved, and annually monitored by the university's COI Officer, working as needed with the Conflict of Interest Review committee. Management Plans are reviewed annually for renewal and are effective as long as the conflict is present. If a Significant Financial Interest relating to your Institutional Responsibilities is determined to constitute a Financial Conflict of Interest with respect to the research activity, the appropriate report describing the Management Plan shall be submitted to the funding agency by MSU.

  • This management plan will then be sent to your immediate supervisor for signature.

Can I see and edit my Financial Disclosure form?

  • Once you submit your Financial Disclosure form you can review it by:

  1. Log into your MyState Portal

  2. Select "eForms"

  3. Select "eForms Search" in the tab at the top

  4. In the Document Type drop down, select "ORC Financial Disclosure Form"

  5. You can then out your netID in the Initiator section

  6. For the date, you can put in the month you submitted the form orJanuary1stof the year you are looking for


  • You cannot edit a previously submitted form. If you want to edit your form, you must complete a new Financial Disclosure form.

  • If you wish to make changes or update your form, you will need to fill out and submit a new form.