International Research Collaborations

Page Updated: January 27, 2020

UW-Madison values the contributions of and collaborations with researchers from around the world. Our campus’ diverse research community and the openness of our research enterprise has enabled our institution to make discoveries that create a better nation and world.

Chancellor Blank and Interim Vice Chancellor Ackerman make clear in their blog post that UW-Madison is committed to scientific collaboration and openness. They also acknowledge the importance of being transparent about foreign relationships and activities.

These relationships and activities are being paid increased scrutiny. The campus community should be aware that disclosures of relationships and activities are receiving national attention and impacting institutions of higher education around the country. Members of Congress and several federal sponsors have expressed significant concerns about perceived undue foreign influence on the U.S. research enterprise.

It is clear that all federal agencies take this issue very seriously. The best advice at this point is to be sure to disclose any and all activities that involve a foreign entity.

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For more information, check out the Interactions with Foreign Institutions & Scholars page.

Communications from Federal Agencies

National Institutes of Health

In August 2018, Dr. Francis Collins issued a letter to grantees and published a Statement on Protecting the Integrity of U.S. Biomedical Research. In these documents, NIH highlighted the following areas of concern:

  1. Diversion of intellectual property in grant applications or produced by NIH-supported biomedical research to other entities, including other countries;
  2. Sharing of confidential information by peer reviewers with others, including with foreign entities, or otherwise attempting to influence funding decisions; and
  3. Failure by some researchers at NIH-funded institutions to disclose substantial contributions of resources from other organizations, including foreign governments, which threatens to distort decisions about the appropriate use of NIH funds.

In July 2019, NIH issued Reminders of NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components and accompanying FAQs on Other Support and Foreign Components. The NIH’s Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Foreign Influences on Research Integrity continues to work to address concerns.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Board, in October 2018, issued a Statement of the National Science Board on Security and Science, which emphasizes that “U.S. universities and colleges must help promote scientific openness and integrity and safeguard information that impacts national security and economic competitiveness.” The Director of the NSF released a Dear Colleague Letter on Research Protection in July 2019. NSF also issued a policy that their agency personnel and IPAs may not participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs. NSF commissioned a study and report from JASON on Fundamental Research Security, which proposed steps that NSF can take to improve the security of fundamental research.

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) released a Memorandum in January 2019 that contains a policy prohibiting DOE personnel from participating in foreign talent recruitment programs. DOE provided further guidance in Order 486.1 to their employees and contractors.

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) issued a Memorandum in March 2019 that delineated information to be provided for senior/key personnel as part of a proposal and that the information would be used for purposes including protection of intellectual property and limiting undue influence. DoD also issued, in October 2019, a letter to universities and research centers describing their efforts to protect the integrity of the U.S. research enterprise and asking for support in doing so.

Office of Science and Technology Policy

In June 2020, OSTP released a presentation on Enhancing the Security and Integrity of America’s Research Enterprise. This presentation highlights some specific cases and areas of ongoing concern. OSTP is working on additional guidance for academic research institutions.

In September 2019, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy sent a Letter to the United States Research Community in which he emphasizes the importance of protecting the integrity of our nation’s research enterprise.

We expect federal agencies to release further guidance over the coming months, so be aware that information and requirements might change at any time. In the meantime, we encourage faculty and staff to reacquaint themselves with existing policies and procedures. Select information (not a comprehensive list) is included below.

Sponsored Research Agreements

Performance of work outside the United States (for proposals and progress reports)

Other/Current and Pending Support (also see Other Support Information)

Biographical sketches/outside affiliations

Intellectual property disclosures

Confidentiality of peer review