University Research Council

April 24, 2003

Meeting Summary


Mike Crouch, Director of the Office of Research, discussed material transfer agreements (MTAs).  An MTA is a contract between the institution that funds a research project and the university that manages the research project.  These contracts address issues related to ownership and use of the results and/or products of funded research.  Patent rights and publication rights, among other issues, frequently must be addressed.

The Office of Research receives five to ten MTAs daily and tries to review them within two or three days.  The provisions in approximately 80 percent of MTAs are readily accepted.  Agreements with the private sector can be the most difficult to process.  A standard format for these agreements does not exist, and, due to market competition, private companies often wish to retain greater control over research than the federal government.

The Office of Research will hold the next lecture in its Continuing Education Series on June 24, from 11:30 to 3:00, in 211 Lawrence Hall.  The topic will be the lifecycle of cost and budget audits.


The award process of the Central Research and Development Fund, i.e., the Small Grants Program, is complete.  Three panels – one each for the social sciences and the humanities, engineering and the sciences, and the medical sciences – reviewed proposals.  The scientific merit of the proposed project and the potential for future, external funding were important criteria.  The panels submitted their recommendations to the Council, which accepted them.


Copyright Policy

Members of the subcommittee have commented on the draft policy.  The revised draft will be presented to the Council after the comments are incorporated into the policy.

Department of Energy

The Council may send a representative to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science to discuss research trends within the Department.  Broader research trends, of which the work in the Department is a component, should also be addressed.

Proposal Workshop

A grant-writing workshop was held on April 16.  Four representatives from social science departments discussed external funding opportunities, and a member of the English department discussed technical writing.  A second grant-writing workshop, to be held on April 30, will focus on multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary grants.  Representatives from the University’s faculty, the NSF, and the NIH will speak.

Research Expertise

The Provost’s Office is encouraging members of the faculty to participate in the Community of Science database.  Deans of the Provost-area schools are working with the Provost’s Office to complete this task.

Social Science Funding

The subcommittee will discuss issues related to external social science funding with staff at UCIS, UCSUR, and LRDC.  Mike Crouch suggested that the members of the subcommittee examine the Journal of the Society of Research Administrators and the Ncura Research Management Review.

The federal agencies trip, held on March 23-24, was a success.  Thirty faculty members from Pitt and Duquesne University met with representatives of several federal agencies.  The Provost’s office sponsored a workshop on funding in the social sciences (see above).  A workshop for staff in social science departments – who would administer external grants – could be devised as a complement to the aforementioned workshop.


Several other issues were addressed:

  • The Council on Academic Computing and the Provost’s Office are sponsoring the High Performance Computing Initiative.  This Initiative encourages researchers at the University to use facilities at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.
  • The Provost’s Office and the Technology Commercialization Alliance hosted a “Cool Devices” showcase on April 16.  Twenty-five faculty members participated, and approximately 150 people attended.  A similar event, which would focus on simulations and modeling, may be held in the fall.
  • The booklet, Guidelines for Ethical Practices in Research, has been updated.  It is available from the Office of Research Integrity, 1710 Cathedral of Learning or (412) 624-3007.  It also is posted on the Provost Office’s website.