Carlos is a professor who is approached by a foreign university to become an adjunct professor in his field of expertise. The foreign university offers to cover all travel costs and pay him to deliver lectures and participate in research projects for three months out of the year during the Canadian summer semester.
Risks to Carlos and the Institution
If Carlos accepts the position, he may feel obligated or under pressure to disclose confidential or commercial information as a condition of the agreement or during the work term at the foreign institution. Carlos could even be placed in situations where he unknowingly or inadvertently shares sensitive information, or is placed in an actual or perceived conflict of interest by receiving gifts, perks, or benefits in exchange for information. In any case, the disclosure of information by Carlos could compromise his home research program or team, hampering their right to publish, protect, or profit from the research.
If Carlos is a recipient of Government of Canada research funding, and does not disclose the affiliation and/or additional external funding sources, he may be in breach of federal funding policies. Carlos may also be violating institutional policies requiring disclosure of external affiliations and funding sources, potentially including employment contract provisions.
Failure to disclose foreign affiliations and funding may be considered a breach of the Tri-Agency Framework on the Responsible Conduct of Research. The failure to disclose could be accompanied by a range of sanctions, including ineligibility for future federal funding opportunities.
Possible Consequences for Carlos
If Carlos shares sensitive data or findings, years of accumulated knowledge could be transferred to a foreign institution. This would hamper Carlos or the home team's ability to publish and significantly reduce the potential for commercialization. The situation could lead to tarnished reputation and adverse impacts on the careers for all who are involved in the project.
Carlos may also be non-compliant with institutional and/or federal funding policies and requirements. Failure to disclose foreign affiliations and sources of funding could negatively impact any active federal funding awards as well as potential future funding eligibility. Carlos may also be in violation of Canadian laws and commercial confidentiality requirements that could lead to legal repercussions.
Possible Impacts for the Institution
It is possible that a position with a foreign institution may lead to inadvertent or deliberate sharing of confidential or potentially commercial information with the foreign institution without formal agreements for data sharing or disclosure. This can lead to serious damage to Carlos' institution's reputation and potential financial losses. If Carlos receives funding from the foreign institution for teaching or research activities that are already funded by his home university, this could lead to financial repercussions from his institution and further consequences for future funding arrangements if it is determined that Carlos breached ethical or legislative requirements.
- Researchers should not participate in foreign talent and/or recruitment programs without consent from their home institution and compliance to their home institution's policies.
- Any appointment to a foreign institution should be disclosed to the home institution, in compliance with institutional policies.
- Foreign funding received that may duplicate funds already allocated for the same research or teaching activities should be disclosed to the home institution and to the relevant funding agencies, in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment contracts and policies, and the relevant terms and conditions of any grants and awards.