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Outside Activities of Holders of Academic Appointments

Policy Contacts

Matthew Fox, J.D.
Senior Research Compliance Officer, OVPR

What is Essential

The University has developed a Statement of Principles that guides collaborations with the commercial sector as well as a Statement on Outside Activities of Holders of Academic Appointments.


How to Comply

Faculty members should familiarize themselves with the Statement of Principles that guide collaborations with the commercial sector and the Statement on Outside Activities of Holders of Academic Appointments. Research agreements with industry sponsors are managed through the Office of Technology Development; in case of any questions about outside activities, faculty should consult with their Deans’ offices.


Why It’s Important

Recognizing the increasing importance of collaboration between universities and outside entities to translate University discoveries and inventions into public benefit, the University developed a Statement of Principles to govern collaborations with the commercial sector and ensure that:

  • “Educational and research activities of Harvard should be motivated, and be perceived to be motivated, by the pursuit of knowledge, and not financial reward.
  • Any agreement with an outside entity or other commercial activity should be structured to protect basic values of the University, such as freedom and openness of inquiry.
  • Educational activities of the university, including student services, should be free from intrusive commercial aspects (e.g. advertisements on “” are prohibited).
  • Exclusive agreements and agreements which involve holding equity in an outside entity will raise special concerns.
  • Proposed partnerships with an outside entity and other similar arrangements involving a substantial commercial element must be approved in advance by the Provost or President, and in some cases, the Corporation. The Provost’s Office is available for early consultation and assistance.”

The University also maintains a statement on Outside Activities of Holders of Academic Appointments  which provides a contemporary interpretation of longstanding principles that offer guidance on the conduct of outside professional activities, emphasizing those undertaken with education or research enterprises other than Harvard.   The Statement deals specifically with teaching, research, and consulting activities.  Harvard recommends that faculty use the Addendum to Consulting Agreement (pdf) when entering into consulting agreements as a means of assuring that the consulting activity will not conflict with the faculty member’s obligations under the University’s Statement of Policy in Regard to Intellectual Property.

Various Harvard Schools have adopted their own policies that address the outside and commercial activities of their members, including the Faculty of Arts and SciencesHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard School of Public Health, and the Graduate School of Design.

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