Research and Sponsored Projects Manual (RSP)

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Effective: 7/1/2017


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RSP 405: Proprietary Research

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To outline the limited circumstances under which the university may agree to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information in sponsored research.

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Arizona Revised Statutes § 39-101 to -161, Arizona Public Records Act
Arizona Revised Statutes § 15-1640, Public records exemptions; intellectual property; historical records; donor records
Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (ORIA)
Office for Research and Sponsored Projects Administration (ORSPA)
University Senate Motion 75-0910, 2016-29, and 2017-40

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Arizona State University is committed to a research agenda that fully integrates research and teaching. This commitment requires that research results become public information. Some sponsors, however, restrict public disclosure of their proprietary information when negotiating the terms of sponsored research agreements. These restrictions may conflict with ASU’s ability to integrate the resulting research outcomes with course content or other forms of public dissemination.

This policy governs research carried out on–campus or off–campus and information identified as proprietary prior to or following initiation of a sponsored research project.

Principal Investigators (PI) undertaking proprietary research outside of their normal university responsibilities are governed by university policies and procedures for consulting and leaves of absence. These policies do not, however, prohibit self-imposed restrictions based upon the professional ethics of a particular discipline.

Proprietary Research Policy

The university will not agree to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information received in conjunction with a sponsored research project unless:

  1. the proprietary information is not necessary for the publication or verification of research results;
  2. an acceptable confidentiality or nondisclosure clause is included in the governing agreement;
  3. the PI(s) agree(s) to fulfill all responsibilities outlined below


  4. the designated information qualifies as proprietary or confidential under Arizona law

Principal Investigator Responsibilities

The PI is responsible for ensuring all project personnel, including visiting scientists, post-doctoral researchers, trainees, graduate students, undergraduates, etc., adhere to all university policies and procedures relative to conducting the project and for the security of the data provided under the agreement.

The PI shall provide a list of all personnel working on any proprietary project, whether paid or unpaid. The PI shall obtain from each individual his or her agreement to abide by the university’s policies and procedures relative to managing the project. Should an individual not agree to abide by these terms he or she may not participate in the proprietary research project.

Prior to ASU’s acceptance of the agreement, the PI shall confirm to the appropriate ORSPA GCO that the terms of the agreement will not have an adverse impact on his or her ability to publish, nor the ability of any ASU employee or student participating in this agreement to publish.

A statement should be included in an agreement stipulating that Arizona State University is a public institution, and as such is subject to the Arizona Revised Statutes §39–101 to –161, Arizona Public Records Act.

The university has the right to publish the results of its research and other sponsored activities, subject to sponsor review for any inadvertent inclusion of confidential or proprietary information.

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes §15–1640, the university, under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), has certain specific exemptions from disclosure requirements of Arizona’s Public Records laws.

Students participating in these projects must be fully informed and provide consent to any potential restrictions on the disclosure of research results developed from work on these projects, so as to not jeopardize fulfillment of student academic requirements because of any restrictions on the disclosure of research results. It is the university’s position that investigators and students must have the right to disclose the results of their research and other sponsored activity, subject only to established safeguards for the protection of privacy and confidentiality of personal data.

Permissible Delays

The university will enter into confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements to allow for the exchange of proprietary information between partnering institutions during proposal development and submission.

The university may agree to delay the submission of materials intended for publication for 30 days to provide time for a sponsor to review such materials for confidential proprietary information that is protected under a sponsored agreement. In addition, because public disclosure of a patentable invention prior to filing a patent application precludes the availability of patent protection in most countries, the university may agree to delay the submission of materials intended for publication for a maximum of 90 days, which includes the 30–day review period stated above, in order to coordinate the invention disclosure process.

If an agreement proposes a restriction on publication, see RSP 406, “Publication” for guidance.

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For Additional Information

See the Technology Control Plan and Technology Control Plan Guidance.

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For additional information on general research policy, see RSP 101, “General Research Policy.”

For additional information on publication, see RSP 406, “Publication.”

For information on consulting, see:

  1. The Academic Affairs Policies and Procedures Manual (ACD) – ACD 510–01: “Notification of Consulting or Other Outside Business Activities or Arrangements for Faculty and Academic Professionals”
  2. and

  3. For additional information on leaves of absences, see the Staff Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual (SPP), SPP 700: “Leaves and Absences.”

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