You are here

M-Inform Glossary & FAQ

The following FAQs define key terms found in the university's outside interest disclosure system, M-Inform and in U-M's conflict of interest policies and procedures.  Knowing the definition or details about these terms may help you determine what you are required to discose as an outside interest to U-M.


An outside activity, relationship, or interest may consist of:

  • Paid or unpaid activities for, and relationships with, an external entity that utilize the same skills and knowledge associated with your U-M job responsibilities. (This does not apply to professional society memberships.)
  • Ownership in a company or business, including equity, stock, or stock options
  • Intellectual property rights or interests, including license and option agreements made through the Office of Technology Transfer for technology, etc. developed at U-M, and non-UM patents, copyrights, and royalties
  • Compensation, loans, or items of value received from external entities for activity related to you U-M job responsibilities (not including student loans)
  • Travel expenses that are reimbursed to you or paid directly by an external entity, as required by PHS regulations and/or your unit's COI policy

Any commercial for-profit company (whether publicly traded or not), any non-profit company, or any non-governmental entity other than the University of Michigan.  Also referred to in M-Inform as an "external entity."

Institutional responsibilities are your professional duties/work on behalf of the University of Michigan.  These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Conduct of sponsored projects, including administration
  • Professional practice
  • Service on institutional committees

An outside interest, activity or relationship is considered "related" to your institutional role when:

  • The outside interest relies on, or utilizes, the same expertise that you provide to the University of Michigan as part of your institutional responsibility.  
  • The outside interest has the potential to influence your university duties.

An equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest in an outside organization. The fair-market value of an equity interest in a publicly traded entity is determined by its public price or other reasonable measure.

This term is not meant to include interests where the individual has no role or influence over trading or investment decisions, such as with mutual funds or retirement accounts.

Payments for the sale or use of intellectual property (IP) paid to the owner of the IP and/or its inventor by an external entity.   U-M does not require you to disclose book royalties, but does require you to disclose as an outside interest any royalties for your IP that is licensed/optioned through the Univeristy of Michigan and/or other entity.

Hotel, air, and ground transportation, and other travel costs paid for by an outside organization, except for:

  • Travel cost covered by a federal, state, or local government agency, a domestic non-profit institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute affiliated with an institution of higher education.
  • Travel costs to study sections or advisory panels for federal awards, or project-related travel covered by a sponsored project/grant.

"Professional effort, as it relates to outside interest disclosure, is the expenditure of time (measured in days) to perform or support an outside activity.  For example, if you spend 8 hours in a given day on a professional activity (e.g., research) and 4 hours of that day is spent on behalf of your outside activity, you would calculate 0.5 days of professional effort spent on that outside activity.  If you spent 0.5 days six times per year on that outside activity, you would enter 3 days of professional effort when disclosing the outside activity in M-Inform.  

If the outside activity involves no spent time (e.g., royalties, stock ownership) or if you disclose an outside activity of your spouse or dependent, enter 0 days for professional effort.

A Conflict of Commitment (COC) exists when your effort (i.e., time and intellectual energy) spent on an outside interest, activity, or relationship could interfere or compete with your ability or willingness to perform the full range of responsibilities associated with your position at the University of Michigan (i.e., institutional responsibilities); or could interfere or compete with the university's missions (teaching, research, service, etc.).

The start/initial date of an outside activity occurs at the point that a written or verbal agreement is established with the outside entity, or you begin work/activities with the outside entity.


For questions about outside interest disclosure requirements for U-M, including terms and procedures, email