Key Terms & Principles

Term or Principle
Publication and open exchange of research findings are paramount

One of MIT’s primary missions is to enable the free and broad dissemination of research results. MIT Policy and Procedure 14.2 states: The profound merits of a policy of open research and free interchange of information among scholars is essential to MIT's institutional responsibility and to the interests of the nation as a whole.

MIT retains the full, independent right to publish any results from its research.

In certain sponsored research agreements, MIT may agree to delay a publication for a short time in order for a sponsor to review in advance, solely to confirm that sponsor’s confidential information was not inadvertently included (if sponsor provided any confidential information to MIT as part of the sponsored research), or to file a patent application on patentable subject matter for which the sponsor has option rights. 

Research is directed by the Principal Investigator and no particular results are guaranteed

All sponsored research projects must be principal investigator (PI)-directed; a sponsor cannot alter or modify any scope of work without PI approval. 

Sponsors are not permitted to “accept” or approve project results or deliverables, or make payment contingent upon certain results. 

In sponsored research agreements, neither MIT nor the PI makes any representations and warranties with respect to any particular research outcomes. 

MIT complies with its institutional research policies

All research activities must be in compliance with MIT’s institutional research policies to ensure the safety, integrity and regulatory requirements relevant to sponsored research. These include federal and institutional policies and requirements related to the following:

  • Human subjects research
  • Animal welfare
  • Conflict of interest
  • Export control
  • International collaboration

Before a sponsored research agreement can be executed by MIT, it must first ensure that the proposed research project has obtained all necessary compliance approvals.

MIT owns the work its faculty, students and employees create in the performance of sponsored research

As noted in MIT Policy and Procedure 13.1, MIT owns intellectual property (IP) made or created by MIT faculty, students, staff or others participating under the direction of the MIT PI in the performance of sponsored research.

In a sponsored research agreement, MIT may grant certain rights to sponsors that may develop IP resulting from a sponsored research agreement into a commercial product or service. Licenses to the MIT intellectual property are negotiated and executed by MIT’s Technology Licensing Office (TLO). TLO also manages the patent prosecution of MIT’s patentable IP.

MIT makes no endorsements on behalf of a sponsor and discloses sponsor support for research

Pursuant to MIT Policy and Procedure 12.3, MIT cannot endorse or advertise any particular sponsor, particularly a commercial entity.  If MIT and a sponsor choose to announce a sponsored research project or collaboration, both parties must agree in advance to the substance of such announcement.

MIT controls the use of its name and logo by a third party for any purpose. 

Because the MIT campus does not perform “secret” research, it must be permitted to report its sponsorship, including the sponsor’s name, in connection with (at minimum) applications for US federal funding awards, reporting to the federal government and other agencies, publications, and any other lawful purpose.

MIT disclaims all warranties related to its research outcomes and IP and limits its liability in connection with sponsored research activities

Research is inherently unpredictable, and therefore MIT cannot warrant – and explicitly disclaims -- any particular performance regarding results, non-infringement of IP rights, fitness for a particular purpose, accuracy of research outcomes, or other related warranties.

MIT and sponsor are responsible for their own acts and omissions in connection with the performance of sponsored research, and typically neither MIT nor sponsor are liable for special or consequential damages.  MIT does not typically indemnify a sponsor for any claims related to the sponsored research activity or any of its outcomes.

Funding for industry sponsored research must be received in advance

MIT requires funding of industry sponsored research in advance of research expenses, not upon “delivery” or “completion” of the research.

Funding is tied to a budget that represents MIT’s costs of performing the research, including salaries and stipends of the research faculty, students and staff, supplies, and administrative and facilities resources or “overhead” costs.