Guidelines for Student Participation in Conflicts of Interest

These guidelines serve to help faculty members and researchers to navigate the issues that may arise when they involve graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and research staff members (collectively, “Research Personnel”) in situations that may be affected by a conflict of interest at UTD.

Standards

  • Research Personnel have the right to perform research at UTD free from the interference or bias of conflict of interest in pursuit of a graduate degree and as a contributor to projects funded by federal agencies and industry.
    • Their involvement in research at UTD that relates to a conflict of interest can be beneficial, but their educational experience should not be diminished or diverted in any way.
    • They have a right to respectful mentorship. Conflict of interest concerns should not impair a faculty member’s responsibilities in serving as their faculty mentor.
    • They have the right to refuse to perform tasks that divert their time and effort from completing adequate progress on their academic degree or professional development.
    • They have the right to refuse to perform tasks that could be viewed as being done for the sole benefit of the Company, or tasks which are in contravention to standard ethical scientific practice.
    • They have the right to information about the source(s) of funds that support their graduate research and any research in which their faculty supervisor asks them to participate.
    • They have the right to information about the extent and purpose of their involvement in collaborations between their faculty supervisor and the company in which the faculty member has a financial interest.
    • They have the right to co-authorship in publications involving significant contribution of ideas or data from their research at UTD.
    • They have the right to information about intellectual property and licensing activities that involve the results of their research.
    • They have the right to know of any employees of the company in which the faculty member has a financial interest who will have access to UTD research facilities in which they are working.
    • They have the right to clearly defined grievance procedures and informal compliant procedures at the department and campus-wide levels.
  • Students who hold research assistant positions at UTD are not permitted to conduct paid or unpaid work on behalf of a company in which their faculty advisor has a financial interest during the term of their assistantship.
  • Faculty members must avoid the appearance of directing students into research activities that serve their own personal interests at the expense of the student’s academic and research interests.
  • Faculty members should not solicit a research assistant, student worker, or graduate student under their supervision to perform work for the sole benefit of the company in which they have a financial interest. This includes consulting, fundraising, or promotion of the Company’s products and/or services.
  • Faculty members should supervise collaborations between their Research Personnel and employees of companies in which the faculty member has a financial interest. Such collaborations should not appear to serve the faculty member’s personal interests at the expense of the mentor-mentee relationship between the faculty member and Research Personnel. Such collaborations should not jeopardize a student’s ability to publish their dissertation research or explore commercial opportunities for that research.
  • Graduate students should not be asked to use UTD equipment to create samples of devices, products, or materials for the faculty member’s company, or for a business partner of the company. The company should request access to UTD facilities for company users through a Lab Use Agreement.

Monitoring Student and Trainee Participation

  • Faculty members should disclose their conflict of interest to Research Personnel before involving the individual in research, teaching, or administrative activities at UTD that may be affected by the conflict of interest. Such activities include, but are not limited to, the design, conduct, and reporting of research, disclosure and protection of intellectual property, the allocation and use of UTD resources, and the procurement of goods or services.
  • The faculty member’s management plan may require a meeting between any Research Personnel and a Research Personnel Monitor, independent of the faculty member, at least once a year to provide an independent review of the participation of the Research Personnel in the research projects related to the company’s financial interests.
  • Research Personnel may also need to request the appointment of a faculty co-advisor who does not have a financial or fiduciary interest in the company that creates the conflict of interest. This co-advisor will ensure the academic and research interests of the graduate student are not unduly influenced by the conflict of interest.
  • Faculty members should disclose their managed conflicts of interest to the other faculty members of thesis or dissertation committees for graduate students whose thesis or dissertation research is related to the financial interests of the company. In certain situations the conflicted faculty member may be asked to abstain from voting on dissertation oral examinations.
  • Graduate students are permitted to conduct paid or unpaid work on behalf of the faculty member’s company with prior approval from the COI Official, the student’s faculty co-advisor, and the office of the dean for the student’s school. Graduate students must submit the Conflict of Interest Review for Graduate Researchers form to the COI Manager to obtain prior approval.
  • Graduate students under the supervision of a conflicted faculty member are permitted to receive or hold an equity interest in a new company formed to commercialize the results of their research at UTD with prior approval from the COI Official, the student’s supervising committee, and the office of the dean for the student’s school. Approval must be obtained by the student before the Company is incorporated or registered. Graduate students must submit the Conflict of Interest Review for Graduate Researchers to COI Manager to obtain prior approval.

Training

Graduate researchers, postdoctoral researchers, and other research staff supervised by a Conflicted Investigator must complete the Responsible Conduct of Research training program hosted by the Office of Research at least once every four years. The Office of Research Compliance will host a seminar focused on conflict of interest concerns for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Forms

Disclosure of Conflict Management to Research Personnel

Research Personnel Review

Conflict of Interest Review for Graduate Researchers

Contact Information

Research Compliance: Conor Wakeman, Conflict of Interest Manager

Technology Commercialization: Brent Schultze, Interim Director

Graduate Studies: Elizabeth Rugg, Associate Dean for Research and Professional Development