Advisory Opinion Regarding Conflict of Interest

Adopted May 1991

A conflict of interest arises when an individual’s personal interest or bias threatens or appears to threaten to compromise his or her ability to act in accordance with professional or public obligations. Historians frequently encounter such situations as participants in some form of peer review— for example, reviewing grant applications, vetting manuscripts for publication, evaluating annual meeting program proposals, or selecting prize or award recipients. Historians should identify and, where appropriate, recuse themselves from any decisions or other actions in which a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof arises; they should avoid situations in which they may benefit or appear to benefit financially at the expense of their professional obligations. An individual should normally refuse to participate in the formal review of work by anyone for whom he or she feels a sense of personal obligation, competition, or enmity.