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Suggested Best Practices for Research Universities

Suggested Best Practices for Research Universities

The AAUP should consider collaborating with other nonprofit academic and public-interest organizations to develop and promulgate “best-practice” models and principles for universities and their faculty senates to adopt to ensure that commercial and academic-industry relationships on campus remain consistent with the university’s core academic research and educational missions. The AAUP should then play a vigorous role in implementing these standards by issuing appropriate statements of concern and undertaking investigations whenever sufficient evidence exists to warrant such action. The principles and models should cover a number of critical, neglected areas: regulation and oversight of industry-sponsored research contracts; large-scale academic-industry research alliances (sometimes referred to as “strategic corporate alliances”); university patenting and licensing; and financial conflicts of interest (for individual faculty members, institutions, administrators, university financial managers, and boards of trustees).

Here are a few examples of best practices:

  • Dissuade faculty members from lending their names to (or receiving any payments in connection with) commercially ghostwritten papers or research.
  • Dissuade faculty members working under the auspices of industry-sponsored research agreements from participating in, or enabling, the suppression of research results that may appear unfavorable to the sponsor’s products or interests. A few possible ways to achieve this goal would be to require that university contracts protect unfettered faculty access to and independent analysis of complete data associated with the sponsored research and to require advance federal registry of all university-led clinical trial protocols.
  • Urge that university technology-transfer offices comply with the intellectual property and licensing provisions contained in a 2007 academic statement titled In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology, which seeks to protect broad dissemination and access to academic knowledge and which has been endorsed by the Association of University Technology Managers and more than fifty universities.
  • Urge stronger campuswide regulation of institutional and faculty financial conflicts of interest. Extend these regulations to cover all relevant disciplines, not only medicine.
  • Urge enhancement of university-wide transparency and public accountability by making all conflict-of-interest disclosure statements from faculty and administrators, as well as all industry-sponsored research contracts, publicly available.

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