U.S. Research Universities' Institutional Conflict of Interest Policies
Feldman, Maryann P.
Thomas, Scott L.
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 2009 September; 4(3): 3-20
RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES RECEIVE INCREASING amounts of income from intellectual property, which makes institutional conflict of interest (ICOI) policies increasingly important. We analyzed the content and scope of ICOI policies at 60 research universities in the U.S. Association of American Universities. In particular, we focused on the following categories: disclosure, review, management, and prohibited or constrained activities. Most of the plans were relatively unelaborated, but 8 were elaborated "university as firm" policies that addressed the way officers and managers acting as agents for the university handled commercial activity through an array of management tools. However, even elaborated current ICOI policies may not be sufficient to manage ICOI because this type of commercial activity is not routine for universities in that faculty discovery or creation of intellectual property is not predictable. Thus, nearly all ICOI is managed on a case-by-case basis by various committees or senior institutional officials. As a result, institutional policy is only as strong as these committees and officers and the management plans they develop and monitor to handle conflicts.
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