Tuesday, March 2, 2021

University of Iowa researchers and scholars are reminded that they are required to disclose any activities involving foreign governments and institutions of higher education, including research collaborations, appointments, presenting or teaching.

For sponsored research, those activities are reported directly to the funding agency. In other cases, faculty and staff can use the UI’s eCOI portal to disclose them.

The UI is committed to the principle of free, open, and objective inquiry as part of its teaching, research, and service missions. Further, the university encourages its employees to engage in external activities that promote that mission, as well as contribute to their professional fields, enhance their professional skills, and/or enhance the public good.

International collaborating is often an important aspect of those activities. To ensure it’s conducted in a manner consistent with institutional and public values, policies have been established to ensure that UI employees avoid improper conflicts by disclosing those relationships for review and management. Full and timely disclosure regarding research support and conflicts of interest is essential to ensure compliance with federal regulations and sponsor requirements.

Failure to disclose this information can have significant fiscal and regulatory consequences, impacting both the individual PI and the institution.

What does this mean for you? For activities involving sponsored research, most federal sponsors require disclosure of international collaboration in the following documents:

  • Proposal
  • Biosketch
  • Support documents that identify all senior and key personnel and provide information about any current, pending, or other support (paid or unpaid, foreign and domestic)
  • Progress reports (RPPRs). Most federal sponsors require prior approval to add a collaborator outside the United States or to travel internationally after the award is made (if foreign collaboration and/or travel were not disclosed in the original funded proposal).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, has recently updated its requirements for reporting “other” support, appointments, and foreign components and has summarized the requirements for reporting at various stages of the funding process and through the Conflict of Interest (COI) reporting process in a helpful table: https://grants.nih.gov/policy/protecting-innovation.htm

To assist researchers in reporting foreign collaborations, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has updated its FAQs for reporting current and pending support: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/papp/pappg20_1/faqs_cps20_1.pdf

The UI’s Conflict of Interest in Research (COIR) policy requires individuals to disclose all financial interests related to their institutional responsibilities through the eCOI Disclosure System. This includes instances of international collaboration and interests outside of usual UI duties, including any form of appointments, payments, stipends, honoraria, and remunerations.

To make those disclosures, visit the eCOI portal. For a full list of what to disclose, visit https://coi.research.uiowa.edu/researchers/ecoi/what-disclose-ecoi.

Faculty and staff are also reminded to visit the Division of Sponsored Program’s International Engagement website, which provides helpful information on collaboration across borders.

Please direct any questions you have to the Division of Sponsored Programs at 319-335-2123, or the Conflict of Interest Office at 319-384-4256.