Faculty should always have written agreements for all outside activities to clearly establish and define expectations. Best practices for outside activity agreements include:

  • Make sure you understand all terms and conditions in an agreement before you sign. 
  • Review the scope of work to ensure that what you are doing for the entity is clearly and accurately defined and you understand how much time you will be expected to spend on the activity.
    • A clearly defined and appropriately limited scope of work for research consulting helps to prevent conflicts of interest with ongoing Harvard research activities.
    • The scope of work should correctly reflect the amount of time and the type of services you anticipate providing to the entity. 
    • Be wary of an agreement that exaggerates the amount of time you plan to spend working for the entity or your anticipated role/title and level of involvement with the entity (i.e., the agreement shouldn’t imply you are directing the entity’s research program if that is not true).
  • Ultimately, trust your instincts.  If something doesn’t seem OK, there is probably a reason, and the agreement should not be signed until/unless you are fully comfortable with the arrangement.