Faculty Handbook

Sponsored Research and Creative Endeavor


The academic governance structure and the Board of Trustees have approved the following general statement and guidelines concerning sponsored research.

Basic Policies 
The recognized educational objectives of Michigan State University include, as equally important goals, the discovery of new knowledge through fundamental research and the dissemination of existing knowledge. The increasingly complex relationships among universities, government and industry call for more intensive attention to standards of procedure and conduct in government-sponsored research and industry-sponsored research carried on at universities. Standards for sponsored research must be respectful of the purposes, needs and integrity of the universities and the rightful claims of the public interest; thus it is incumbent upon the academic community to be mindful of conflict of interest situations which may arise in these growing involvements of the University.

General Statement 
The University encourages faculty/academic staff members and students to engage in research, including that sponsored by such outside agencies as foundations, professional associations, government, and private industry, for it is only through continued and expanding research activity that the excellence of teaching programs can be maintained and improved, and the function of the University as a contributor to the storehouse of knowledge fulfilled. Important reciprocal benefits from sponsored research accrue to the University and to sponsoring agencies if the basic purposes and functions of each are duly respected.

Consulting Relationships 
Through consulting relationships with government and industry, the faculty can provide both with an invaluable resource of expertise and assistance in the transfer of technical knowledge and skill, and at the same time serve the interests of research and education in the University. Such relationships are desirable, but require cognizance of the basic differences of purposes and functions of sponsoring agencies and the University.

Major Guidelines 
The following statement was approved by the Graduate Council on May 15, 1967 and by the Board of Trustees on March 20, 1970.

  1. Science advanced through the creativity of scholars working either singly or in groups, and research projects proposed and developed by the faculty and consistent with the University's goals will be encouraged.
  2. Sponsoring agencies frequently have rather specific purposes, and some may even specify problems for which research support is available. The University, through the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, will make such opportunities known appropriately within the University. However, faculty will be encouraged to participate only if the projects are considered consistent with their research interests and aspirations.
  3. Sponsored research projects should, whenever possible, include the provision that new and promising leads of inquiry should be encouraged and fruitless lines be discontinued.
  4. Sponsored research projects should be consistent with the policies and missions of the department(s) and of the college(s) in which the research will be conducted. The research should be directed by faculty within established units of the University such as departments, schools, centers, bureaus and institutes. Cooperative programs cutting across academic units are also encouraged.
  5. Research projects should be managed so as to avoid disruption of established research and teaching programs of the institution, for example.
    1. Sponsored research should be accepted only if appropriate space and facilities are available.
    2. As appropriate, provisions should be made for continuity of support in order to stabilize required staff.
  6. Reports to sponsoring agencies should be consistent with the requirements of the project. They should be submitted promptly to avoid unprofitable expenditures of time and energy on the part of the sponsoring agency and the researcher. Payment to the University on fixed price contracts is contingent upon submission of reports which, if not forthcoming, may result in "freezing" large sums of University funds in support of such research. Rapidly changing and unforeseen research directions may make frequent reporting desirable.
  7. In seeking or accepting support for research, care should be exercised to insure compatibility with the functions and purposes of research at the University. Routine testing as an end in itself is considered incompatible with the purposes of University research.
  8. The University should retain for its scholars the right of first publication. The imposition of restriction on publication of research results is incompatible with the basic concept of an educational institution. Exigencies of national defense may at times make exceptions to this policy on publication necessary. No publication, statement, or activity, either on behalf of the University or by an individual in their official capacity, shall endorse any commercial product, or advocate any specific commercial method or device, either directly or by implication.
  9. The University should make a continuous effort to see that its own members are provided with sufficient information on overall cost of research and other financial matters concerning grants and contracts so as to minimize internal misconceptions that arise with regard to justifiable allowances for indirect costs.
  10. The entire cost of sponsored research should be carefully determined; if grants or contracts are accepted which do not cover the direct and indirect costs, the institution should itself provide the additional financial support with the full recognition that it is making a contribution to the cost of the work.
  11. Research proposals should include in their budgets provisions for special costs for services such as computer operations, electron microscopy, publishing costs, and shop fabrications.
  12. Research projects must conform to established University policy on patent rights. (See section on Patents)
  13. Research projects which involve use of animals, human subjects or hazardous substances such as toxic compounds, infectious agents, explosives, radioactive isotopes or recombinant DNA, etc. must conform to current University policies and guidelines. (Consult the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.)
Back to Faculty Handbook