Foreign Government Interference in Academic Research

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Nationally, there are serious concerns about foreign government efforts to co-opt research capabilities, talent, ideas, and results, and to unduly influence the conduct of academic research. This has given rise to the need for heightened vigilance in everyone’s adherence to academic norms, and heightened attention to investigators’ obligations of disclosure of activities, commitments, and sources of support.

What is essential?

Efforts to co-opt or capture academic capacities have taken forms such as recruiting researchers into so-called talent recruitment programs, and usurpation of ideas, for example by obtaining unpublished information such as grant application content.

Some investigators have failed to disclose research activities outside their universities, outside affiliations or commitments, or sources of support. Such occurrences are understood as failures of transparency with colleagues, failures of discretion in handling unpublished materials or of open publication of results of broad interest, and denying sponsors the ability to make fully informed judgments about funding projects.

Why it’s Important

Failures of transparency with regard to relationships, commitments, and sources of support, and failures of discretion in handling unpublished matter erode trust with colleagues and with the public and undermine the function of an open academy. Sponsors take seriously, and are increasingly vigilant of, failures to disclose activities, sources of support, affiliations, or commitments.

Both the investigator and the university can be held responsible for failures, and both federal agencies and law enforcement may take action against individual investigators and universities, including substantial financial penalties and criminal charges with penalties that can include imprisonment.

How to Comply

Be thorough and diligent in providing required information about affiliations, positions held, sources of support and resources, and commitments in proposals, just-in-time pre-award filings, and progress reports.

Consistently adhere to principles of transparency about affiliations, sources of support, and commitments, as transparent about these with colleagues and students, handle others’ unpublished ideas and information with utmost discretion, and expect the same of those around you.

Be thoughtful and diligent, and adherent to university policies, in disclosure of real or apparent conflicts of interest as well as potential conflicts of commitment such as non-Lehigh professional activities.

If you are uncertain about your responsibilities or have questions, seek help.

Helpful Resources