The MWCCS Executive Committee (EC) relies heavily on the expertise and advice of working groups, investigators, project directors, and study staff in developing the MWCCS scientific agenda. One of these delegated responsibilities is the evaluation of concept sheets for scientific merit, feasibility, and specimen/data availability. These reviews are not unlike the study sections and review panels at NIH, where issues related to conflict of interest and confidentiality are inherent. Although you are reviewing concept sheets, they are the intellectual property of the submitting investigator and should be considered privileged communications. For some investigators, these are actual descriptions of future or current grant submissions. To quote the NIH, “the unauthorized use of ideas or unique methods obtained from a privileged communication is considered plagiarism and falls under the definition of scientific misconduct.”
The sharing of concept sheets, both approved and under review, outside of its intended reviewers, is expressly prohibited. In determining potential overlap, the publicly accessible concept sheet abstract & aims, as well as correspondence with the Lead Investigator, can assist with resolving any overlap issues. With regards to conflict of interest, if for any reason you feel you have a ‘conflict’ with a particular concept sheet that would bias your evaluation, you should recuse yourself from any discussion of the concept sheet.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this confidentiality agreement, please contact us at MWCCS@jhu.edu.