Undue Foreign Influence

The Benefits of International Collaboration

Academic research in the U.S. is open to people of all nationalities and backgrounds.  This openness is fully consistent with Mines’ values of research integrity, as are objectivity, honesty, fairness, accountability, and stewardship.  This approach to research has led the U.S. to remarkable innovation and academic accomplishment.

Mines encourages global partnerships in the universal pursuit of knowledge, and these partnerships result in mutual benefits.  The guidance offered on this page is not intended to discourage global partnerships, but to heighten awareness of particular risks related to undue foreign influence and the processes at Mines to mitigate these risks through disclosure and transparency.

Reference:

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/21896.

Undue Foreign Influence

Undue foreign influence.  Activities by international actors that are intended to gain unfair advantage in research, activities that violate Mine’ values of research integrity or that may be prohibited by law or pose a risk to Mines or to national security.

Examples of undue foreign influence in research include the following:

  • Diversion of funding proposals or manuscripts submitted for review
  • Hacking of unpublished research data or methods
  • Illicit acquisition of software or proprietary information
  • Contracts that ask parties not to disclose financial or other support, or
  • Incentives, financial or other, that might tempt researchers to violate the ethical foundations of research.

University and National Interests

The great majority of research conducted through Mines is fundamental in nature, meaning “basic or applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.”  (National Security Decision Directive 189)

To protect both fundamental and proprietary research, Mines upholds research ethics, including transparency and disclosure. 

Precautions for responsible international collaboration

Although international collaboration is vital for scientific discovery, Mines takes reasonable precautions to avoid being taken advantage of by those who might wield undue foreign influence:

Disclosure to the university of potential conflicts of interest or commitment, similar to the disclosures already required by federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

  • Training in responsible conduct of research and a mechanism for students and employees to inquire about or report possible research misconduct.
  • Export control procedures for protecting restricted research, screening and reviewing international vendors, sponsors, and visiting scholars hosted by Mines, and for advising international travelers and shippers.

 

Undue Foreign Influence Resources

In response to efforts from foreign governments to illicitly recruit scientific talent and acquire intellectual property and trade secrets, university associations have published a variety of recommendations, centering around disclosure of commitments and potential conflicts of financial interest.

Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), Actions Taken by Universities to Address Growing Concerns about Security Threats and Undue Foreign Influence on Campus, Apr 22, 2019

American Council on Education (ACE), Dear ACE member Presidents and Chancellors Letter, May 10, 2019

Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), Framework for Review of Individual Global Engagements in Academic Research, Jan, 2020

 

In addition, several government agencies, affiliated groups, and international bodies have released guidance related to questions of undue foreign influence.

Purdue, FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH AND GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS: IMPLICATIONS FOR EXPORT CONTROLS, January 2018

Department of Energy Order 486.1, Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs, June 7, 2019

Fostering Integrity in Research, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017

Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Actions for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Controlled Information, Key Personnel and Critical Technologies, March 20, 2019

National Science Foundation, Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide, June 2020

Office of Science and Technology Policy, Letter to the United States Research Community, Kelvin Droegemeier, Sept 16, 2019.

Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Threats to the U.S. Research Enterprise:  China’s Talent Recruitment Programs, Nov 18, 2019

JASON, Fundamental Research Security, JSR-19-21, Dec, 2019

Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), China Defence Universities Tracker