Research News


Transparency In Research FAQ PDF


    • What are the primary concerns of the federal government funding agencies with regard to undue foreign influence?
      The federal government is concerned about the following:
      • Undisclosed foreign collaborations (funded and unfunded)
      • Participation in foreign “talent programs”
      • Infringement on academic freedom
      • Undisclosed or unmanaged conflicts of commitment
      • Undisclosed financial conflicts of interest
      • Diversion of intellectual property to others, including foreign entities
      • Unauthorized transfers of confidential data
      • Non-compliance with export-control laws and regulations
      • Unauthorized disclosures of confidential proposal information by reviewers who share
      • the information with others, including foreign entities, or otherwise attempt to influence
      • decisions
    • Have there been any findings of deliberate violations or misrepresentations so far and if so, what ramifications or results of investigations have happened thus far?
      Recently, NIH sent 180 letters to more than 60 U.S. institutions where scientists are suspected of violating disclosure rules related to sources of funding and outside employment. On August 20, 2018, NIH sent a letter to the research community broadly stating the responsibilities to comply with NIH policies and US regulation and to responsibly disclose all foreign collaborations and relationships.

    • Do I need to report outside professional activities or research collaborations to funding agencies, and when?
      Yes, you need to report both outside professional activities and research collaborations. Depending on the federal agency, the form/format may be different. For example, NIH requires the Other Support form. UAB has established a revised Other Support Form for UAB researchers. The form and instructions can be found at

      Prior to engaging in external professional activities, faculty and staff must request advance approval in the activity outside the UAB Enterprise. Examples of these activities include:
      • external employment, including moonlighting and/or locum tenens activities;
      • consulting;
      • lecturing, presenting, or speaking;
      • establishing and/or supporting a start-up company;
      • serving as an expert witness;
      • participating in a board of directors; or
      • participating in a scientific advisory board.
      If approved by the department and school, for those individuals involved in UAB research, pertinent information about the activity will be communicated to the CIRB for inclusion in the individual's financial interests profile in IRAP. As such, there is no need to separately report approved external activities to the CIRB Office or to include the same information in a Disclosure of Financial Interests.
    • Do collaborations without funding need to be reported?

      NIH: Foreign collaborations involving NIH funding have always required prior approval. Recent congressional concern over the U.S. losing intellectual property to foreign countries has led to a reminder announcement in May, close review of publications cited in Research Performance Review Reports to confirm compliance, and a special announcement by NIH Director Collins. The latest NIH announcement reiterates that the policy applies to foreign conduct of any of the work scope, inclusive of subawards, regardless of the source of funding. A “foreign component” is defined as the performance of any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended. Based on program officer reviews recently received, such involvement includes unfunded collaborations with a foreign entity or a foreign person, including visiting scholars, graduate students, and fellows funded by their home country, exchanging material and/or data, or other use of foreign resources.

      NSF: Requires that “…any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be described in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal (see Chapter II.C.2.i) and documented in a letter of collaboration from each collaborator. Such letters should be provided in the supplementary documentation section of the FastLane Proposal Preparation Module and follow the format instructions specified in Chapter II.C.2.j. Collaborative activities that are identified in the budget should follow the instructions in Chapter II.D.3.”

    • When do outside professional activities need to be reported to UAB?

      In addition to the External Activities request, UAB requires employees to be aware of potential conflicts of interest and commitments. It is important for faculty and staff to read and understand the UAB policy on conflicts of interest. Each investigator is required to disclose to UAB all financial interests related to his/her institutional responsibilities that are owned or held by him/her, his/her spouse, or his/her dependents prior to the application for research and within 30 days of discovering or acquiring new financial interests. Investigators must update any such disclosed financial interests not less than annually while involved in research. It is also important for faculty and staff to read and understand the UAB policy of outside employment and consulting.

    • Why can’t my department chair simply approve my request via email or verbally?

      It is a responsibility of department chairs and other unit heads to ensure that faculty and staff in their units are familiar with UAB policies and procedures relating to outside professional activities, conflicts of interest, conflicts of commitment, as well as those related to extramurally sponsored funding.

    • What is an export and what are export control laws and related UAB policies? [LAST UPDATE: 1/4/2022]

      An export occurs when an item is transferred physically from the U.S. to a foreign country, e.g., actual shipment of goods or carried during international travel, as well as when information is transmitted to a person or entity in a foreign country, whether in writing, or via email, phone, fax, internet, and verbal conversations. The UAB policy for Export Control can be found here: In order to help you determine if an export control license is necessary for an activity you need to do (ship, transmit, or transfer an item, material, information, etc.), the UAB Office of Compliance and Risk Assurance has a decision tree on its website.

      Please be aware that simply discussing certain information with a non-U.S. person, even if that discussion occurs on campus, may be a deemed export. In some cases, allowing a non-U.S. person access to an item can be considered an “export” of technical information if that technology is a sensitive prototype that hasn’t been released yet in commerce. U.S. export laws control certain technologies (both military and commercial) and govern what technologies can be sent abroad or shared with non-U.S. person. A U.S. person is defined as a citizen or permanent resident (sometimes called a “green card holder”).

      Export Control Laws and Regulations: These include, but are not limited to, ITAR, EAR, and OFAC:

      • ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations): Regulations governing the exports and re-exports of items and services for military use, which include defense articles, including technical data, defense technologies, and defense services. These regulations are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Defense. (22 CFR Parts 120-130).
      • EAR (Export Administration Regulations): Regulations governing the export, including deemed export and re-export of dual use commercial items and technologies and other commercial items and technologies without an obvious military use. These regulations are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Commerce. (15 CFR Parts 730-774).
      • OFAC (The Office of Foreign Assets Control): The federal government office responsible for administering and enforcing foreign asset control regulations. This includes economic and trade sanctions based on federal foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The regulations administered by OFAC include controls with regard to specific individuals, specific organizations, and certain countries. OFAC is under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. (31 CFR Parts 500-598).

    • Are my research or service activities export controlled?

      It depends. Fundamental research that is intended to be published without sponsor restrictions (i.e. no non-disclosure agreements, publication approval requirements, foreign national restrictions, etc.) is generally excluded from export laws. That said, to be certain, you should review the UAB decision tree to determine the correct answer. If you need any assistance, please contact the University Compliance Office at (205) 996-6540 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.