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Contract Research Policy

1. Definition of Contract Research

a) Contract research is defined as research that is conducted with the support of a sponsor or purchaser who is external to the University. Contract research is normally associated with a well-defined objective and will often require outputs such as products, reports or publications.

b) Contract research, by definition, is conducted on a contractual basis between the University and the purchasing/sponsoring agent. It may involve confidentiality and restrictions upon publication, particularly if it is commercial research.

c) Appropriate contract research and related professional activities are desirable within the University to foster the University's interaction with the wider community and for the professional development of staff. The University retains the right to refuse contract research that is incompatible with its mission and/or strategic objectives. Specifically, the University will not accept, directly or indirectly, research funding from the tobacco industry.

d) While supporting involvement in research that is commercial in nature, the University will be led by certain objectives in deciding whether the research is acceptable.

These are:

• to ensure that the initiatives complement teaching and are consistent with the University's mission and strategic direction
• to ensure that the initiatives will strengthen teaching, learning, and research within the University
• to ensure that staff and students are protected from exploitation
• to maintain a list of such activities, open to scrutiny, undertaken by the University
• to ensure that the research meets appropriate ethical standards

e) XJTLU has expertise that covers a broad spectrum of disciplines enabling it to provide experience, facilities and expertise across a wide range of sectors. Innovation is key to successful business models and collaboration with external partners on innovation projects increases competitive advantage. Acceleration of the innovation process and access to new ideas becomes possible. XJTLU seeks to deliver commercially beneficial innovations through partnering with, and delivering contract research for businesses.

2. Guidelines for contract research

a) The arrangement needs to be beneficial to both XJTLU and the external party; ideally it should enhance the brand and reputation of both parties.

b) The commissioning organisation receives benefits commensurate as detailed in the contract.

c) Both parties should sign a research contract to prevent possible misunderstandings; this should be for a mutually agreed period of time.

d) A research contract should not imply endorsement of an organisation’s products or services by XJTLU.

e) XJTLU staff do not benefit financially (included but not limited to payment of salary or other honoraria) from the arrangement unless stipulated specifically in the contract.

f) The research contract may include financial and promotional support, use of University assets such as facilities and venues, or access to academic staff expertise, as agreed in the terms of the contract.

g) Potentially contentious contract research should be excluded on pragmatic grounds even if the offer is generous. For example, carrying out contract research with a tobacco company may jeopardise grants from agencies supporting cancer research.

h) For issues relating to conflict of interest and research ethics refer to the relevant policies.


3. Procedures for handling the contracts

a) The mechanism for handling a contract research agreement is that it is submitted by the principle investigator to proceed University approval procedures.

b) The final approved contract requires the signature of the applicant. Any changes requested in the terms of the contract during its life should be processed in the same manner as the original contract.

c) It should be stressed that the principal investigator has the primary responsibility to see that the research is carried out in accordance with the terms of the contract. The responsibility of the University is to verify that the terms of the contract are in accordance with relevant University policies.

d) The detailed procedures can be referred to XJTLU Regulation on Contract Research Projects and XJTLU Regulation on Collaborative Research Institute.

4. The Contracts

a) A contract for a contract research project is a specifically written, legal agreement between the University and a sponsoring external party, subject to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the contract is awarded. A contract normally includes clauses or statements pertaining to specific "deliverables" or output from the research project; a schedule and date(s) for the completion of work, including those for progress reports and a final report; funds payable to the University and the schedule for payment, often in response to invoices sent to the sponsoring party for expenses incurred; the ownership of intellectual property resulting from the project; and publication and disclosure.

b) Contracts should contain as a minimum requirement:

• full contact details for all parties to the contract
• statements on the ownership of intellectual property and publication rights
• statement relating to thesis submission (especially if a student is involved)
• a statement of confidentiality
• a statement of governing law
• a statement allowing either party to withdraw from the contract under appropriate circumstances
• a statement on liability
• the date for the submission of the final report

c) XJTLU (not individual staff) is the binding signatory on all research and commercial contracts and, as such, is required to ensure that any report(s) or product(s) are delivered in accordance with the contract. A failure by employees to abide by contract conditions may place the University in breach of its contractual obligations.

d) The University might require (PhD) students to sign the contractual agreement if they are involved in the work.

e) By its nature, ongoing research may require an alteration to protocols, procedures, timelines, milestones, objectives, etc. contained in the original research contract. The contract should contain a detailed description of the project and budget, for example it should specify how much time each academic staff member is estimated to spend on the project, the identity of the contractor(s) on XJTLU side, the beneficiaries of funds, and details on tax obligations and liabilities. Salaries and other personnel costs in a contract budget should be clearly specified. Honoraria paid to members of faculty must be approved in stages by the School/Academy and the University, and final approval will not be given until after the contract has been satisfactorily completed. Any changes may require the University to notify the research purchaser by letter and to enter into a revision of the research contract. All renegotiations of contracts must be handled by the Research Engagement and Innovation Office.

f) Intellectual property rights arising from externally-sponsored university research: though universities and corporations may both have an interest in combining efforts to pursue common research goals, contracts should specify the division of intellectual property rights. Such agreements must reconcile these conflicting interests and provide a distribution satisfactory to both parties. Most cooperative research arrangements begin with a written agreement which explicitly determines the distribution of subsequent intellectual property rights.

(Last Review Date: 18-Oct-2023)

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