Research Policies and Procedures

The Office of the Vice President for Research has overall responsibility for research administration and policies related to research at the Institute. The Institute is committed to responsible and ethical conduct of research and stewardship of sponsored funds. Our commitment is reflected in many of our policies and procedures, which serve the dual purpose of expressing MIT’s core values and promoting our compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

  • The Division of Comparative Medicine oversees biomedical research involving animals. All projects involving live vertebrate animals must be reviewed and approved by the Committee on Animal Care.

  • There are many appointment types for individuals involved in research activities at the Institute. Each type of appointment is intended for individuals with particular qualifications and responsibilities. It is important that the appropriate appointment be used to ensure access to benefits and compliance with applicable Institute policies.

    A summary of the common appointment types and key distinctions can be found on these pages:

    Research and Academic Appointments

    Visiting and Affiliate Appointments

  • The Broad Institute, founded by the generosity and vision of Eli and Edythe Broad, engages faculty, professional staff, and students from across the MIT and Harvard academic and medical communities. Guidelines and procedural information for faculty and staff wishing to participate in research collaborations with, funded by or at the Broad Institute can be found in the Broad-MIT Coordination Document.

  • MIT’s policy is to fully comply with all U.S. export control laws and regulations. Details about the Institute’s export control compliance program are available in the Export Control section in the Integrity and Compliance area of this website. 

  • MIT policy requires that MIT officers, faculty, and staff and others acting on its behalf avoid or mitigate real or perceived financial conflicts of interest and ensure that their Outside Professional Activities and interests do not conflict with their obligations to MIT or its welfare.

  • Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES) serves as MIT’s Institutional Review Board and is responsible for the review  of human subjects research protocols where MIT is engaged in the research. COUHES’s oversight of human subjects research is guided by the Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects, generally known as the Belmont Report, the Common Rule 45 CFR4 6 as well as other applicable regulations. COUHES approval must be obtained before any human subjects studies are conducted.

    MIT allows clinical trials provided they do not involve greater than minimal risk, and the Institute has appropriate resources necessary to facilitate the research. Further clarification of this policy.

  • The aim of the Institute’s policy on patents, copyrights, and other Intellectual Property (IP) is to make available Institute technology to industry and others for the public benefit, while providing recognition to individual inventors and encouraging the prompt and open dissemination of research results. The  Committee on Intellectual Property (CoIP) recommends policy guidelines to the administration. The Technology Licensing Office (TLO) manages the protection and licensing of MIT’s Intellectual Property. Individuals who may be in a position to make, conceive or reduce to practice inventions or otherwise develop intellectual property under sponsored research or other MIT projects or Opportunities (whether or not salary or other support is received from such projects) must sign the  Invention and Proprietary Information Agreement (IPIA). This requirement applies to all employees, students, and visitors to the Institute.  

    Intellectual Property developed using MIT Funds by participants in, and solely in conjunction with, a specific MIT program established to support education in innovation or entrepreneurship that has been identified by the Vice President for Research (“Exempt Programs”), subject to the conditions described in  MIT Policies and Procedures 13.1. The Vice President for Research will maintain a list of the Exempt Programs. The current list is: 

    Exempt Programs 

    • Delta V 
    • DesignX 
    • Sandbox 
    • Sloan Entrepreneurship Program 

    Facilities Recommended 

    • BioMaker Space 

    If a participant intends on using or further developing MIT-owned Intellectual Property in an Exempt Program, he or she must inform the TLO and his/her faculty supervisor, faculty advisor, research advisor, Principal Investigator or equivalent, and obtain permission or rights from the TLO.  

    Please visit MIT Policies and Procedures 13.1 to view the complete policy. 

  • In the course of their research, members of the MIT community may wish to travel to countries that entail safety, health, or political risk. U.S. sanctioned programs and export controls restrict travel to some countries, as well as what can be taken and what can be done in the destination country. Details regarding travel to countries or areas with restrictions are available through the MIT Global Support Resources (GSR) website.

  • The Institute must report regularly all lobbying activities which include oral, written or electronic communications to a government official regarding federal legislation, administration or execution of a Federal program or policy, formulation, modification or adoption of a federal rule, regulation, Executive order, policy or government position or the nomination or confirmation of a person subject to confirmation by the Senate. Details regarding activities that are considered lobbying, and the process for disclosing lobbying activities are at the Federal Lobbying Regulations page.

  • MIT encourages the departments, laboratories and centers to provide educational programming to minors in a safe, professional and responsible manner. Individuals agreeing to host a minor intern or visitor must comply with the Institute Policy 9.15 and with guidance on MIT's Protection of Minors website. Enrolled MIT students who are minors are not subject to this policy.

  • The Institute’s policies governing outside professional activities are designed to encourage active participation in research enriched in many cases by interaction with industry, business, government, and other activities and institutions. The Provost's Office provides more information on pursuing and reporting outside professional activities.

    Information for MIT faculty regarding outside professional activities is available in MIT’s Policies and Procedures §4.5. Department heads and center/laboratory directors counsel faculty and researchers regarding specific cases. The Faculty Policy Committee recommends appropriate modifications of policies and procedures to the faculty.

    Non-faculty research staff are subject to specific rules concerning outside professional activities depending on their position at the Institute and detailed in Policies and Procedures §2.0§5.0, and §6.0 for each appointment type.

  • Principal Investigators are entrusted by the Institute with the responsibility to independently design, conduct, and supervise sponsored projects. Faculty, Principal Research Scientist, Principal Research Engineer, Principal Research Associate are accorded principal investigator status by virtue of their appointment. Other individuals may be granted PI status on a per-project basis by the senior officer for the unit where the research would be conducted upon recommendation of the department head or laboratory/center director.

  • Legal and audit requirements dictate how long financial and other records related to sponsored programs must be maintained. Generally, records related to federal grants and cooperative agreements must be retained for three years from the date of submission of the final expenditure report. For federal contracts, records must be retained for three years after the final payment. Individual grants and contracts from non-federal sponsors may stipulate a different timeframe. The importance of retaining financial records and additional details related to retention times and responsibilities can be found on the Research Administration Services website.

  • Compensation costs (salary and benefits) represent a significant portion of expenses charged to sponsored programs. It is Institute policy to have each Quarterly Salary Distribution Report (Quarterly DACCA) certified by the appropriate individual. The Principal Investigator/Cost Object Certifier, in association with the head of the DLC or administrative office, is ultimately responsible for making sure that all cost objects with payroll charges are certified in accordance with Institute policy.

  • As part of the MIT mission, faculty and principal investigators engage undergraduates, high school and junior high students and teachers in MIT research activities. The safety of these individuals is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator. The procedures for Minors include EHS procedures and the procedures described on the Protection of Minors site. Links are included in the EHS procedures to assist users when they need to refer to specific sections of other websites.

  • Whenever a sponsor does not allow the Institute to charge the full rate for recovery of facilities and administration (F&A) or indirect costs, it creates an under-recovery. This occurs most frequently with foundation sponsors.

    MIT policy requires that under-recovery of F&A on research activities funded by sponsored awards be identified and funded internally. The Institute is committed to supporting research projects that incur under-recovery of F&A. The specific process for securing funds to offset F&A under-recovery varies across departments, laboratories and centers, and within each school. Principal Investigators who are considering applying for foundation support should consult with the DLCI administration where the proposal will be administered for details on the internal process.

    An overview of under-recovery and the process for administering awards with under-recovery can be found at the Vice President for Finance's page: F&A Under-recovery of Research F&A.

  • The widely recognized MIT name and its associated seals, marks, symbols, logos, and photographic images (together referred to as “name and marks”) are among MIT”s most valuable assets, representing the high caliber of MIT’s faculty and students and conveying the quality and breadth of MIT’s accomplishments. Faculty, students and staff share in the benefits associated with MIT’s name and marks, and therefore also share responsibilities concerning their use.

    The Institute Office of Communications provides guidance to faculty and staff around appropriate use of the MIT name and marks. These uses include individual identification by affiliation in activities not directly related to MIT such as independent consulting (e.g., Jane Smith, Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Assistance is also provided related to use of names in business relationships with third parties.

  • The Institute’s research enterprise values and supports a diverse population comprised of more than 5,000 international students and scholars. While supporting and encouraging the exchange of students and scholars, the Institute must also comply with federal regulations regarding the employment of foreign nationals (non-United States citizens and non-permanent residents).

    The International Scholars Office (ISchO) is responsible for handling applications and providing information regarding visas for foreign academic staff and sponsored research staff. ISchO is MIT's liaison with immigration authorities regarding this population. DLC staff are encouraged to contact ISchO as many months as possible in advance of the desired appointment date. The International Students Office offers similar services for international students.