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Origins of the International Research Collaborations Project 

Member interest in the issue of global research agreements became accentuated after the June 2008 GUIRR meeting (“New Partnerships on a Global Platform”) and its focus on the growing complexity of international relationships. The notion of ‘government’ no longer necessarily means a federal agency; instead, it can be the World Bank or the United Nations, government associations, the State Department, or a state government. The same is true for universities – the partner engaging in collaborative activity may be a university department, a faculty member, an educational association, or some other entity. So too is the case with industry, which may now be globalized or local, large and established or a small start-up venture. A teleconference on July 15, 2008 confirmed interest in further examining what presently constitutes a sound research agreement in any given sector and also identifying the current barriers and work-arounds to their formation. A newly formed GUIRR working group has concluded that, while there is clearly no “one-size-fits-all” master agreement, identification of the elements of international research agreements would provide valuable guidance to the research community writ large.

The working group convened its first meeting on August 28, 2008 at the National Academy’s Keck Center to chart its goals, direction, and intended outcome(s). Initial plans for this group include the following:

• Generate a list of key questions (Have you thought of this?) within a set of relevant categories:

o LEGAL – laws and regulations, issues around scientific integrity, licensing, intellectual property rights, graft and corruption, environmental law, etc.

o CULTURAL/CROSS-NATIONAL – language/terminology (e.g., understanding of the fiscal year, quarter system), interpretation of appropriate and inappropriate behavior, ethics, responsible conduct of research and scholarship, differences in the way science is organized and funded, national systems of graduate education and training, etc.

o COMMERCIAL – movement and/or flow of money, people, and information

o OTHER – defining lines of authority, what constitutes due diligence, how do you transmit sensitive information, time zone differences, etc.

• Develop a primer on the challenges and tensions in international research collaboration based upon the key questions (above) so as to help bring government, university, and industry sectors into some kind of alignment by forging a common understanding and language.

• Potentially develop, in conjunction with the primer, a companion publication highlighting solutions-based case studies (a Living Studies type publication).

• Potentially develop, as an accompaniment to the primer, an interactive Web presence that incorporates a Wikipedia for open online dialogue and experiential exchange.

• Engage up-front and distribute the primer, upon completion, to key stakeholders.

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