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This could possibly be very specific to each university, but I was wondering if there is a rule prohibiting researchers who are working within a university from conducting independent research — perhaps external funding.

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    Please clarify what you mean by "researchers who are working within a university". – Rodrigo de Azevedo Feb 6 at 18:29
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    For any research involving human subjects or animals, the university will get very upset if you take the research outside of the university to avoid dealing with the institutions human subjects or animal care committees. – Brian Borchers Feb 7 at 0:29
  • @RodrigodeAzevedo Sorry for the late response. By that I mean researchers who are (A)using university funds to conduct research and may or may not be payed separately, (B) researchers using university equipment (C) being paid by the university to conduct research – Rahul Saha Feb 9 at 0:52
  • @BrianBorchers Sorry for the late response. Does this also implicitly restrict researchers from performing any external research (and, say, publishing a paper but not using results found in a university lab)? Although this is perhaps a gray area, I was wondering if there is a complete ban on external research in most institutions) – Rahul Saha Feb 9 at 0:54
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    @RahulSaha my comments related to human subjects research. If your research doesn't involve human subjects or other regulated activities (hazardous materials, radioactive materials, arms technology, etc.) then it's possible that the university wouldn't object to your performing research on your own time using your own resources. The biggest issue you're likely run into is intellectual property- the university may lay claim to all of your intellectual property as part of your employment agreement or contract. – Brian Borchers Feb 9 at 1:42
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This isn't a question that can be answered in general. It varies by place and by university. Some universities, like commercial organizations, will want to claim that all of your IP developed as an employee belongs to them. Others will pose no obstacle. Your best answer will come from the university you are interested in. There may be a legal affairs office that can answer such questions.

For an individual, having the university claim ownership can, possibly, have an advantage as they may support commercialization of your ideas and share the profits with you. But you can't assume that. So, it is best to ask before you begin so that you know of any limitations.

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    Bringing in external funding without going through the university folks would be a bad move likely... – Jon Custer Feb 6 at 2:24
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    Employee handbooks and contracts often specify that faculty and researchers are not allowed to work for anyone else while in the employ of the university. For example, "moonlighting" by teaching distance ed courses for a for profit university is something that faculty have gotten in trouble for. – Brian Borchers Feb 7 at 0:27
  • @Buffy Thanks for your answer. I understand that there could be a lot of difference within universities. However, do you know if there is a majority of institutions that are strictly against or for researcher conducting external (not under the banner of the university) research? – Rahul Saha Feb 9 at 0:57

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