Disclosure Requirements for Penn State Faculty

Disclosure Requirements

All full time Penn State faculty, including research and teaching faculty are required to:

  1. Secure prior approval for certain outside professional activities before engaging in them.
  2. Disclose time spent on all applicable outside professional activities (both paid and unpaid).
  3. Disclose all significant financial interests that are related your instituational responsibilities. Not sure what relatedness means? See this resource for help.


Outside professional activities are activities that are in your area of expertise but are not part of your institutional responsibilities.


What is a Conflict of Interest?

A conflict of interest in research can occur when an investigator is in a position of influence on a research project, and their financial interests outside of the University are such that they or their family members could potentially benefit from the outcome of the research. The University requires all investigators to disclose significant financial interests (SFI) as defined by policy RP06 in order to compy with U.S. Federal regulations, and maintain objectivity and integrity of research. See the resources on this page for more information about what financial interests require disclosure. NOTE: Investigators whose primary affiliation is with the College of Medicine should visit the College of Medicine's Conflict of Interest website.

An "investigator" is any individual, regardless of their title or position, whether faculty, staff, or student, who can make independent decisions related to the design, conduct or reporting of University Research, but not including individuals who perform only incidental or isolated tasks related to a University Research project.

What is a Conflict of Commitment? 

A conflict of commitment can occur when your external obligations (either paid or unpaid) conflict with or appear to conflict with your institutional responsibilities. For example, participating in outside professional activities such as teaching at another institution, starting your own company, or engaging in outside consulting work can cause conflicts of time and effort. The University encourages you to participate in outside professional activities. See the resources on this page for more information about the outside professional activities that require prior approval and / or disclosure. 

Video: Overview of Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

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Difference Between Prior Approval and Disclosure

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Securing prior approval for an outside professional activity does not fulfill your time reporting or financial disclosure responsibilities per policy AC80 and policy RP06. Prior approval is for activities that you plan to do while disclosure is documentation of activities that you have already done. Because sometimes plans can change, you must still disclose the time you spent on the activity and any applicable financial interests even if the activity was previously approved.



Example: Outside Teaching During Your Appointment Period

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Request prior approval via the AC80 Prior Approval Form before engaging in the activity. Then, report time spent on the activity via the AC80 Disclosure Form and disclose applicable financial interests in COINS within 30 days of starting the activity.  


Example: Starting a Company

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Request prior approval via the AC80 Prior Approval Form before filing paperwork to start the company. Then, report time spent on the company activities via the AC80 Disclosure Form and disclose applicable financial interests in COINS within 30 days of starting the company.  


Help and Resources

Review the resources below for assistance with determining which activities require pre-approval and disclosure. You may also contact COI staff with questions at coinsadmin@psu.edu

Faculty Outside Activities and Disclosure Guide

Review the Faculty Outside Activities and Disclosure Guide to determine which activities require disclosure and / or prior approval. 

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Disclosure Requirements Infographic

Click the image below to view and download the infographic. 

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