COI for Graduate Students

How do university COI policies apply to me?

Policy 216 disclosure and reporting requirements may apply to you if:

  • You are an “Investigator” on a sponsored research project;
  • You form a company with a faculty member.

What if I want to start a company with my faculty advisor?

The Offices of Research, Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance, and the deans of Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the Faculty Conflicts Committee have developed the guidelines below for cases involving faculty members forming companies with their graduate student (Ph.D.-track) advisee form a company together. These guidelines are intended to balance the University’s interests in protecting the academic rights of graduate students and recognizing the benefits of student and faculty entrepreneurship. These guidelines are:

Graduate students (Ph.D.-track) may form companies with their faculty advisors, provided that:

  • such participation does not conflict with the terms of their funding;
  • they should have advanced to Ph.D. candidacy;
  • they are not on academic probation;
  • they separately disclose these activities to their deans and the Office of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance; and
  • students and their faculty advisors jointly sign conflict of interest management plans.
  • Required oversight to be included in each management plan:
    • Once a semester meeting with:
    • A dean’s office representative; and
    • EITHER (a) the Department Chair or (b) the department’s Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Students are informed that they may seek additional guidance from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for COI questions and concerns

Please note that these guidelines typically apply only to faculty member advisors and their Ph.D.-track graduate student advisees. Involving other students and research staff in one’s outside activities may require similar management elements.

What if I want to start a company with a faculty member who is not my faculty advisor?

Your dean’s office, the FCC, and SPARC may recommend that the guidelines above may apply to your case.

I have questions and/or concerns about COI (such as my faculty member’s COI). Whom do I contact?

conflicts@rice.edu at SPARC (x6200), or you may report compliance concerns confidentially to EthicsPoint