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Archive for Wednesday, May 17, 2006

KU reshapes policy on research

May 17, 2006

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KalScott Engineering may be local, and it may have been started by Kansas University graduates, but the firm takes its research ventures to out-of-state universities.

The reason: a fuzzy restricted research policy at KU that turns companies like KalScott away, said Suman Saripalli, KU graduate and vice president of KalScott.

"Right now, things are too ambiguous," he said. "We don't like to be in that state of not knowing what this policy is."

After months of haggling, KU faculty have devised a new policy for research involving proprietary information or other restrictions on its use and dissemination.

In some ways, the policy is the same as it's always been, its authors said. But it also clarifies the process for faculty desiring to do restricted research.

"This, at least, gives everyone a fighting chance," said Rick Hale, an engineering professor who helped revise the policy.

With the new policy, a professor's restricted research cannot be considered for promotion and tenure decisions.

And the new policy does not allow temporarily restricted research that must be closed to the public for more than three years. KU also forbids research that's not accessible to foreign students and scholars. There are numerous other guidelines.

But the new policy outlines a process for exceptions.

"Now the wording makes it quite possible to grant an exception," Hale said.

Faculty who desire an exception from KU research policy can take their case to a Restricted Research Committee appointed by the Faculty Senate.

The six-member committee's decisions about various projects will be open for review and compiled in an annual report.

Hale said the new policy and research review committee allow the university to adapt to what faculty are comfortable with as time goes on.

"The process is going to enable us to get to where we want to be," he said.

The new policy has been approved by faculty and was forwarded to the provost and chancellor Tuesday.

It's too early to say whether the new policy will entice firms such as KalScott.

Saripalli said he had yet to review the new policy. He said for more than two years, KalScott had approached researchers in California, New York, North Carolina and elsewhere for research work.

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