Engaging in Outside Activities

All outside professional activities must be conducted in accordance with Brown’s policies, including but not limited to Brown’s Policy on Outside Professional Activities for Faculty, Brown’s IP Policy, and Brown’s Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment policy

When engaging in Outside Professional Activities, the following general principles apply: 

  • An outside professional activity should never interfere with your University duties and responsibilities.

  • University policy permits faculty members who are full-time University employees to devote no more than one day per normal work week, on average, to outside professional activities and interests.

  • Brown University facilities, personnel and equipment may not be used for personal activities except in a purely incidental way.

  • When engaging in an outside professional activity, it is advisable to have a written agreement with the entity for which the activity is conducted.

  • When providing personal consulting services to an outside entity, you may not provide to this entity preferential access to research results, materials or products generated from University teaching or research activities.

  • Confidential information acquired through conduct of University business or research activities may not be used for personal gain, or to grant unauthorized access to outside entities.

  • Ensure that the outside activity is conducted in accordance with Brown’s IP policy and that all inventions related to your Brown research are reported through Brown’s invention disclosure process, even if support from an outside activity contributed to the invention.

  • Your engagement by the outside entity does not give the entity the right to use the name and logo of the University. If the outside entity wishes to use the name and logo of the University, it must seek explicit permission from the University.

  • If you are listed as an author on any publication resulting from performance of your personal consulting services, a disclosure should be included stating that "Dr./Prof. [Your Name]'s contribution to this publication was as a paid consultant, and was not part of their Brown University duties or responsibilities."

  • Involving students or subordinates in one’s outside professional activity may be prohibited. See Brown’s COI in Research policy (section 3.7.5) and Brown’s Conflict of Interest and Commitment policy (section 3.7)

  • It is always advisable to consult with your own legal counsel to ensure adequate review of the legal terms and condition of any agreement you sign, including liability and indemnification clauses, and to ensure that the agreement is consistent with University policies.

Reporting Outside Professional Engagements

Some outside engagements and associated financial compensation, if greater than $5,000 per calendar year, must be reported on the annual COI reporting form. Investigators on Public Health Service (PHS) funded research, must remember to update their COI reporting form within 30 days of receiving more than $5,000 in compensation. Investigators who are not PHS funded can update their COI form once a year during the annual COI reporting cycle. COI forms are updated and submitted through InfoEd

Faculty/Researchers who have or are applying for Federal Funding

In addition, faculty and researchers who have or are planning to apply for federal funding, must adhere to the sponsor’s requirements related to disclosing relationships with, and support from, other sources, including some consulting activities and engagement with non-US entities. Federal policies regarding disclosure obligations of other sources of support continue to evolve. Detailed and up-to-date information about where and what to report to federal sponsors can be found on Brown’s website: Identifying all Sources of Support in Proposals for External Funding  

Additional Guidance for Faculty-Owned Start Up Companies

  • If your outside professional activity includes equity or ownership interests in a private company, including start-ups, you are presumptively prohibited from accepting research funding from that entity, unless the award is a federally funded SBIR/STTR grant. See Brown’s COI in Research policy (section 3.5.2) for additional details.

  • Usage of university facilities and resources by the start up is prohibited, unless agreed to by the University and governed by a fully executed Facilities Use Agreement. 

  • If applying for SBIR/STTR grants with Brown as the academic research partner, please review the guidelines for SBIR/STTR funding (see section 3.6). We recommend working with the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) and the COI team well in advance of proposal submission.

  • Students, trainees and other subordinates at Brown should not be involved in work at the startup company, unless they have received explicit permission from the Vice President for Research.

Additional Guidance for Post-Doctoral Trainees and Graduate Students

  • Ensure that your graduate or post-doc funding, if applicable, allows for "outside" work/activity. Specifically, if you are a full-time doctoral student who is receiving a stipend, please ensure that you are staying within the allowable 12 hours/week outside effort. See the Graduate School’s Outside Employment policy for more details (p. 36 in the Handbook).

  • If charging effort on grants, ensure that the outside activity aligns with your reported research effort. 

  • Ensure that your department and your supervisor have approved this outside commitment.

  • If not a US citizen or Green Card holder, ensure that the visa or immigration status allows for this outside work/activity.