University of Southern California


Guidelines For Externally Funded Projects

Steps for submitting a proposal for corporate or foundation funding.

The University seeks opportunities to develop cooperative projects with external entities. The following information provides guidance in some areas in which the University places particular emphasis when contemplating a project in cooperation with a private or government sponsor.

Projects selected for funding must be judged to be academically worthy by the standards of normal scholarly procedure in the particular academic discipline, consistent with the academic plans of the University and should not be an impediment to the achievement of other academically worthy projects. The University requires the open identification of the actual sources of funding. No conditions may be attached to any resulting agreement that would in any way jeopardize the University’s commitments to the principles of academic freedom and nondiscrimination.

A primary purpose of externally funded projects must be to produce results which will be freely available and publishable in the manner accepted in the particular academic discipline. Project agreements should clearly state that faculty investigators retain full and free rights to determine what they will publish. These publications may suitably protect the identity of the sponsor and its proprietary or confidential data according to normal standards of professional ethics. It is understood that the terms of resulting agreements may require the preparation of privileged reports to the sponsor so long as the principal purpose of the project is the generation of information which is freely publishable. The university may permit delay (normally not to exceed three months), but not denial of publication, for the following reasons: (1) the project involves use of privileged sponsor data, (2) the project is only one task or element of a larger project and release of results must be coordinated with others, or (3) the project involves the development of an invention which may be patentable.

Any personnel appointment supported by an agreement shall be made in accordance with established University procedures. No part of this responsibility can be surrendered or shared externally. If any person should be nominated for any position at the University as a result of his or her connection with, or designation or suggestion by the sponsor, that appointment must pass through all normal procedures applicable to that position with full disclosure of the individual’s relationship to the sponsor. Academic merit shall be the primary and dominating criterion for such an appointment.

Agreements should not require University financial obligations in the present or at any time in the future except those known and judged to be acceptable to the University. Overhead is normally calculated at the current on-campus research rate negotiated with the Federal Government. All agreements are subject to approval by and the Dean and, if required, the Provost, who must be convinced of the good faith of the sponsor. Agreements are normally between the University and the Sponsor, with faculty performing as Principal Investigator(s) on behalf of the University, and are signed by a corporate officer of the University, usually the Provost. Work with a private sponsor may not be permitted to be of such magnitude as to give an unduly commercial aspect to the activities of the department. No publicity by the sponsor is to be given to the results of the work without approval of the University. Reprints of publications resulting from the work should be distributed by the University and not the sponsor.

Intellectual property (data, inventions, patents and copyrights are examples of intellectual property) created in the performance of work is generally owned by the University and is licensable to the sponsor, for consideration, when a license is essential to the realization of commercial development for public use or benefit.

The University maintains liability insurance covering its employees and generally asks the sponsor to indemnify the University against liabilities arising out of responsible performance and use of the results of the project in product development.

This brochure reflects the University perspective on important issues which often arise from projects with external entities. The general principles enumerated herein apply equally well to unfunded endeavors such as material sharing and clinical trial agreements. We recognize that sponsors have equally important concerns related to sponsor goals. We believe together we can resolve any competing issues to the mutual satisfaction of the sponsor and the University. Please feel free to contact our office should there be either questions or additional information desired.

Mailing Addresses:

Health Sciences Campus
University of Southern California
Health Sciences Campus
Department of Contracts & Grants
Soto Street Building
2001 Soto Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089-9235
Telephone No. (323)442-2396
Fax No. (323)442-2835

University Park Campus
University of Southern California
University Park Campus
Department of Contracts & Grants
3720 S. Flower Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90089–0701
Telephone No. (213)740-7762
Fax No. (213)740-6070