Procedure For Dealing with Restrictions to Open Research

PROCEDURE* For Dealing with Restrictions to Open Research

  1. Review relevant document (e.g., Request for Proposal or Request for Application, draft research agreement, draft Material Transfer Agreement).

Upon receipt of these documents, grant administrators in Office of Grant and Contract Administration review the document for clauses that:

A. Restrain the University from disclosing:

a. the existence of the contract or grant;

b. the identity of the sponsor or the grantor and, if a subcontract is involved, the identity of the prime contractor; and

c. the purpose and the scope of the proposed research in sufficient detail:

i. to permit informal discussion concerning the wisdom of such research within the University; and

ii. to inform colleagues in immediate and related disciplines of the nature and importance of the potential contribution to the disciplines involved

B. Limit the ability to disseminate fully and promptly the results of the research or specifically permit retroactive classification (other than standard clauses found in federal contract templates that are not germane to the research).

C. Restrict who can participate in the research project.

2. Determine whether research is "proprietary" or "restricted."

If grant administrators find restrictive clauses, they will determine whether the clauses fit into the "proprietary" or "restricted" categories:

Proprietary research: Industrially-sponsored research that uses the sponsor's proprietary information or results in intellectual property for which the sponsor has an option to an exclusive license. These sponsors often request restrictions on who can discuss the research and under what circumstances. They also may prohibit publication of confidential company information or ask the researcher to delay publication of research results so that they can review the material for proprietary information or take steps to secure intellectual property rights to possible inventions.

The University accepts "proprietary" research agreements that do not restrict who can work on the project and do not request unreasonable (>12 months) publication delays. Agreements containing other restrictions fall under the definition of "restricted" research.

Restricted research: Research that is restricted in who can work on the project or how and when the researchers can discuss the results of the project. This type of research includes projects that are labeled as "sensitive but unclassified" by the sponsor.

Principal investigators seeking to conduct restricted research must request an exemption from the Openness in Research policy.

3. If the research falls within the definition of restricted research, the grant administrator alerts the principal investigator, Co-PI, Heads, Chairs and Deans.

Grant administrators are responsible for informing the principal investigator about the open research policy and procedures for requesting an exemption if it becomes necessary.

4. Negotiate to remove or amend restrictive clauses.

Grant administrators will attempt to negotiate an agreement (typically less than 90 days) that is satisfactory to the potential sponsor and principal investigator, and in compliance with the University's policies and the principles of academic freedom.

5. Refuse the contract or request an exemption

If the sponsor does not agree to remove the restrictions Office of Grant and Contract Administration, may choose to refuse the contract or may request that the principal investigator seek an exemption from the Openness in Research Policy. To request an exemption, complete the steps below.

6. Initiate exemption Request.

The principal investigator must initiate the Exemption Request (Request for Exemption Form). This report facilitates the flow of information among the groups that will discuss and recommend approval or disapproval of the exemption request.

7. Complete the Request.

Within three business days for receiving the request, the Director of Office of Grant and Contract Administration will complete their sections of the request.

8. Forward exemption request to the Open Research Committee.

The Director of Office of Grant and Contract Administration submits the exemption request to the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement. The Chair then forwards the request to the Open Research Committee and convenes a meeting to evaluate it.

9. Consider exemption request and forward recommendation to the Office of the President

The committee considers the request using the guidance outlined in Appendix B. At the discretion of the Chair, the PI may be asked to participate in these discussions. The committee will then recommend whether to accept or reject the request.

The Chair of the Committee completes the appropriate sections on the request report and forwards the recommendation to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement.

If requested, review by the committee will be completed within ten business days of the date the exemption request is received by the Chair. This timeframe is flexible if scheduling is difficult because of a need to accommodate the principal investigator.

10. Consider exemption request and forward recommendation to President.

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement under the advisement of the Open Research Committee forwards his recommendation to the President.

11. Make a decision to grant or deny the exemption request.

The President makes the final decision to grant or deny the exemption request.

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement sends the final decision to the principal investigator, Chair of the Senate Research Council, Office of the General Counsel, and Office of Grant and Contract Administration.

12. Reporting

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement tracks requests for exemptions and provides an annual report to the Chair of the Senate Research Council. On an annual basis, the Chair provides an executive summary of exemption request decisions to the full Faculty Senate.

* this procedure has been adapted from materials developed by the University of Minnesota for similar purposes.