Reviewing Requests for Exemptions to the Policy on Openness in Research
- 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 Sponsored Projects Administration review the document for clauses that:
- Restrain the University from disclosing:
- the existence of the contract or grant;
- the identity of the sponsor or the grantor and, if a subcontract is involved, the identity of the prime contractor if the results of the research must be reported to the sponsor, grantor, or prime contractor; and
- the purpose and the scope of the proposed research in sufficient detail:
- to permit informal discussion concerning the wisdom of such research within the University; and
- to inform colleagues in immediate and related disciplines of the nature and importance of the potential contribution to the disciplines involved.
- 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).
- Restrict who can participate in the research project.
- Restrain the University from disclosing:
- 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 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.
- If the research falls within the definition of restricted research, the grant administrator alerts the principal investigator.
Grant administrators are responsible for informing the principal investigator about the open research policy and procedures for requesting an exemption if it becomes necessary.
- Negotiate to remove or amend restrictive clauses.
Grant administrators, working with the Office of the General Counsel, will attempt to negotiate an agreement that is satisfactory to the potential sponsor and principal investigator, and in compliance with the University's policies and the principles of academic freedom.
- Refuse the contract or request an exemption
If the sponsor does not agree to remove the restrictions, the principal investigator, in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel and Sponsored Projects Administration, may choose to refuse the contract or may request an exemption from the Openness in Research Policy. To request an exemption, complete the steps below.
- Initiate exemption Request.
The principal investigator must initiate the Exemption Request (Appendix A). This report facilitates the flow of information among the groups that will discuss and approve or disapprove the exemption request.
- Complete the Request.
Within three business days for receiving the request, the Director of Sponsored Projects Administration and the Office of the General Counsel will complete their sections of the request.
- Forward exemption request to the Senate Open Research Subcommittee.
The Director of Sponsored Projects Administration submits the exemption request to the Chair of the Senate Research Committee. The Chair then forwards the request to the Open Research Subcommittee and convenes a meeting to evaluate it.
- Consider exemption request and forward recommendation to full Senate Research Committee and other Senate committees as appropriate.
The subcommittee 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 subcommittee will then recommend whether to accept or reject the request.
The Chair of the Subcommittee completes the appropriate sections on the request report and forwards the recommendation to the full Senate Research Committee. Other Senate committees are informed through the minutes of the Senate Research Committee. Representatives from other committees can join the full Senate Research Committee meetings to discuss the request.
If requested, review by the two committees 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.
- Consider exemption request and forward recommendation to Vice President for Research.
The Senate Research Committee will then recommend acceptance or rejection to the Vice President for Research. The Chair of the Committee facilitates by completing the appropriate section of the report and sending copies to the principal investigator and Vice President for Research.
The principal investigator may send a separate statement to the Vice President for Research to support or rebut the Committee's recommendation.
- Make a decision to grant or deny the exemption request.
The Vice President for Research makes the final decision to grant or deny the exemption request.
The Vice President for Research sends the final decision to the principal investigator, Chair of the Senate Research Committee, Office of the General Counsel, and Sponsored Projects Administration.
The requests for exemptions are tracked through the minutes of the Senate Research Committee. On an annual basis, the Chair provides an executive summary of exemption request decisions to the full Faculty Senate.