1.2 Rights and Responsibilities in the Conduct of Research

Presents a summary of Stanford's policies and practices related to research, including a review of obligations to students, staff, and sponsors.


Questions about this policy can be answered by:

Arvin, Ann Margaret


Vice Provost and Dean of Research


1. Introduction

This policy outlines faculty members' rights and responsibilities in the conduct of research at Stanford.

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2. Rights of Faculty Members

To carry out Stanford's research mission effectively, scholars are guaranteed certain freedoms.  Faculty have the right to academic freedom in the pursuit and support of research as defined in the statement of Principles Concerning Research, found in the Research Policy Handbook. Faculty have the right to disseminate the results and findings of his or her research without suppression or modification from external sponsors beyond those provisions explicitly stated in the policy on Openness in Research.  Members of the Academic Council have the right to engage in external consulting activities, subject to the University's, and in some cases their School's, limitations. It's important that faculty adhere to both the spirit and the letter of the policy.

Along with these freedoms come corresponding responsibilities:

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3. Responsibilities of Faculty to Staff and Students

Faculty members must be aware of their obligations to staff and students working as part of the research team. It is particularly important that at least annually, each faculty member should review intellectual and tangible property rights and responsibilities (for management of data in all media, for proper authorship attribution, etc.), with all members of the group under his or her direction, including staff, students, postdocs, and visiting scholars. Each member has the right to know who is sponsoring the research and supporting his or her salary or stipend.

On an individual level, the best interests of each staff member and student should be of particular concern. The University is committed to demonstrate support and appreciation for its staff. To that end, faculty members are encouraged to provide staff development opportunities and, if possible, a mentor relationship for those in their group.

Health and Safety

Each faculty member is responsible for training members of his or her team in appropriate health and safety procedures for that particular research area, and for management of those procedures in his or her laboratory or other workplace. PIs are also responsible to assure the periodic inspection of lab facilities, and to cooperate in any inspections by Stanford personnel or by external agencies.

Consulting by Academic Staff - Research

On an exception basis, members of the Academic Staff-Research occasionally may be permitted to engage in outside consulting activities under conditions outlined in the RPH, Conflict of Commitment and Interest for Academic Staff and Other Teaching Staff.

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4. Responsibilities to Sponsors

Fiscal Obligations

Although the legal agreement funding a sponsored project is between the sponsor and the Stanford University Board of Trustees, the overall responsibility for management of a sponsored project within funding limitations rests with the PI. Funds must be expended within the restrictions of the contract or grant, and if any overdraft should occur, it is the responsibility of the PI to clear the overdraft by transferring charges to an appropriate account.

Equipment Control

The control of both Stanford and Government-owned equipment is mandatory under Stanford's externally sponsored contracts and grants as well as under University policy. PIs are responsible for securing necessary approvals for the purchase of the equipment, proper tagging, inventory, utilization of equipment and disposal once equipment becomes excess.  For specific guidance, please refer to the Property Administration Manual.

Proposal Preparation

The cost of proposal preparation activities in support of new directions in research may not be charged to sponsored projects. Department Chairs and School Deans must ensure that non-sponsored project funds are available to offset the portion of the investigator's and his or her staff's salaries from sponsored projects for effort spent preparing proposals to support new directions in research. The cost of proposal preparation efforts for continuing research is appropriately charged to current projects. Also, should there be questions on which direct costs are subject to indirect costs as proposal budgets are prepared, please refer to the appropriate documents in the Research Policy Handbook.

Certification of Salaries and Expenses to Sponsored Projects

Sponsored project and cost sharing accounts must be reviewed and certified by the PI quarterly. It is the responsibility of each department chair and school dean to see that a system is in place to ensure that the PIs in their areas fulfill the requirement for review and certification of salaries and other expenditures, and to assure that salaries charged to sponsored projects correspond to effort expended on those projects, within the appropriate limitation for their school.

Technical and Invention Reports

Principal Investigators are responsible for submitting sponsor-required reports through the Office of Sponsored Research or the Research Management Group (OSR or RMG) on a timely basis.  The reports must be sent directly to your project monitor, with a copy to OSR or RMG at the same time so that contract and grant files are complete.

Patents and Copyrights

All participating researchers, including postdocs, students, and visiting scholars, must sign Stanford's Patent and Copyright Agreement (SU-18) before the commencement of any research activities.

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5. Other Responsibilities

A. Conflict of Interest

The key to Stanford's policy pertaining to conflict of interest is the trust in the integrity of the individual faculty member to disclose any situation that could lead to real or apparent conflict of interest. Stanford policy requires an annual certification of compliance and disclosure of potentially conflicting relationships. In addition, situations which arise during the year in which outside obligations have the potential for conflict with the faculty member's allegiance and responsibility to the University require a prompt ad hoc disclosure.


B. Research Protocols

Faculty members also need to ensure that approved research protocols for the use of human and animal subjects in research are obtained and followed.

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