01/2020: Download the report from the Boston University ad hoc Committee on Research Security and Conflicts of Commitment.

10/2019: View slides from our town halls on international collaboration and federal reporting.

Open science and international collaboration are essential to research, scholarship, and discovery. As of 2016, nearly twenty percent of academic papers were authored by teams representing multiple countries. At Boston University, we are actively working to safeguard these partnerships by maintaining the highest standards of transparency and doing everything we can to support and educate our faculty.

In the past year, federal funding agencies have asked researchers to become more vigilant in the disclosure of international research collaborations, affiliations, and activities to protect the integrity of U.S. research and intellectual property. We are closely monitoring guidance coming out from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies. We encourage faculty to stay abreast of current agency regulations and best practices, some of which are outlined below.


Key Takeaways

  1. Complete all aspects of federal grants thoroughly, especially items related to foreign components
  2. Update funding agencies on new foreign engagements
  3. Complete a Conflict of Interest disclosure whenever required
  4. Report all intellectual property to the University to ensure it’s protected
  5. Familiarize yourself with BU policies related to research agreements and export control

Research Proposals

All portions of federal grants must be completed thoroughly and with great attention to detail. Even innocuous inconsistencies and errors have the potential to raise flags with federal funding agencies.

As a reminder, all proposals for external research support must be submitted through Sponsored Programs and awards must be made to the “Trustees of Boston University.” Full guidance on submitting proposals can be found here. In September 2019, we updated both the proposal summary form (PSF) and the NIH RPPR summary form (RSF) to include a checklist of considerations as faculty submit federal proposals.

Guidelines from specific agencies related to “foreign influence” are outlined below.

NIH Guidelines

NSF Guidelines

NSFNational Science Foundation has similar requirements to those of the NIH for reporting “Current and Pending Support.” “Current and Pending Support” is defined by the NSF as the support requested or available from all sources of project funding.

All current and pending support from whatever source (e.g., federal, state, local or foreign government agencies, public or private foundations, industrial or other commercial organizations, or internal funds allocated toward specific projects) must be listed. The proposed project and all other projects or activities requiring a portion of time of the PIPrincipal Investigator View Boston University's policy on... and other senior personnel must be included, even if they receive no salary support from the project(s).


Financials

Faculty and researchers must adhere to all BU finance-related policies. The more the University understands your international collaborations and relationships, the better we can support your research efforts in the current environment.

Disclosure of Financial Interests

Faculty and researchers must disclose any income or travel reimbursements received from a foreign entity, including governments and academic institutions. Financial disclosures are governed by BU’s Investigator Financial Conflicts of Interest Policy, which states that principal investigators and others who share responsibility for the design, conduct, and reporting of research must disclose all personal financial interests related to the breadth of their institutional responsibilities. Learn more or complete a disclosure

Gifts and Donations

As a reminder, only designated University personnel are authorized to accept gifts from any source. This includes gifts from foreign entities.


Additional Considerations

  • Activity reports: Familiarize yourself with BU’s policy on external activity and complete your annual external activity report thoroughly, including the new sections on international employment, international support, and international patents.
  • Research agreements: You may not enter into informal or unofficial agreements to restrict publication or sharing of research results. Publication restrictions in research can only be negotiated by University officials who have delegated authority to accept contracts and grants. Learn more
  • Export control: You must comply with U.S. export control regulations when doing any of the following: traveling internationally and attending conferences, participating in international collaborations, using proprietary information, working with international staff and students, hosting international visitors, shipping materials internationally, or engaging in any international transactions. Learn more
  • Intellectual property: To ensure that all intellectual property is protected and, when required, appropriately reported to sponsors, all BU employees are expected to promptly disclose intellectual property and any improvements to existing intellectual property to BU Technology Development.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are beginning a compilation of FAQs based on information received to date. Most of the responses below are from NIH senior officials and the Grants Policy office. Responses across NIH divisions may differ. We will continue to add to this list as we receive new details from federal funding agencies.


Further Reading

If you have questions, please contact Diane Baldwin, Associate Vice President, Sponsored Programs at dbaldwin@bu.edu.