The open sharing of research materials and information facilitates the acquisition of new knowledge in diverse disciplines. In keeping with the principle of fostering reproducibility, and in the absence of patent or copyright considerations, novel compounds and reagents, cell lines, cDNA clones, etc., should be made available to qualified investigators requesting these materials. In lieu of this, appropriately described means for obtaining these materials should be given to other competent members of the research community upon request. The senior investigator should have the latitude to make a fair and balanced response to requests for all research substances.
In some instances, research leads to a product that may have commercial value or be patentable. The researcher is referred to the U.S.F. Division of Patents & Licensing for assistance.
Many respected faculty are committed to developing and to studying tools, techniques, and processes whose primary purpose is to promote the health or welfare of society in areas having potential commercial value. The research director is responsible for assuring that such investigations meet the same standards of quality and reproducibility as investigations of a more basic nature. Furthermore, any faculty member who has financial interests in a company sponsoring his or her research must disclose such financial interests to the chair and dean/director to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
The Association of American Medical Colleges employs this characterization of conflict of interest: ".... the term conflict of interest in science refers to a situation in which financial or other personal considerations may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an investigator's professional judgment in conducting or reporting research.... The bias such conflicts may conceivably depart not only affects collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, but also the hiring of staff, procurement of materials, sharing of results, choice of protocol, and use of statistical methods.... Individual conflicts of interest in research arise in large part because of the interplay between a faculty member's personal and financial interests and the opportunity to conduct externally-funded research....".