Faculty Oversight Committee

When the Conflict of Interest (COI) Committee has determined that an investigator has a significant financial conflict and that students could be at risk, the COI Committee will ask the chair or dean of the investigator’s academic department to establish an ad hoc faculty oversight committee.

The charge of the faculty oversight committee is to safeguard the academic welfare of graduate students on the project and to assure that research results are published or made publicly available as appropriate.

Guidelines for the Department Chair or Dean

The department must form the oversight committee within 30 days of receiving notice from the COI Committee.

  • The chair or dean of the department will name a chair for the oversight committee.
  • The ad hoc committee should have at least three faculty members.
    • One faculty member should be from the investigator’s home department.
    • It is preferable that one faculty member come from outside the investigator’s home department.
    • One faculty member should be from the student’s Ph.D. committee, who is familiar with that student’s research area and thesis project.
  • When there are multiple students working under a single investigator, the same committee can be utilized for each student. In this case, the third committee member should have some specific knowledge of the student’s research area, but need not be on every student’s thesis committee.
  • It is preferable that members of the oversight committee be prepared to serve for as long as the project in question is funded.

Once established, the names of the committee members are to be sent to the chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee and the Conflict of Interest Coordinator at researchcoi@berkeley.edu.

The department chair or dean will annually collect and review the department oversight committee annual report form for as long as the project is funded. This report must be made available to the Conflict of Interest Committee and the Conflict of Interest Coordinator upon request.

Guidelines for the Members of the Faculty Oversight Committee

To safeguard the academic welfare of graduate students on the project, the oversight committee will assure that research results are published or made publicly available as appropriate. Freedom to publish and disseminate results are major criteria for assessing the appropriateness of any research project, particularly those involving graduate students, students must always have freedom to publish.

The oversight committee will assure that participation in the research project was not inappropriately influenced by private interests and that the project is an appropriate research activity which is in the student’s best interest. Graduate students have the freedom to decide whether to participate in research and the right to say no, to change advisors, and to change research interests to avoid engaging in activities that may not be in the student’s academic interest.

Members of the faculty oversight committee must meet individually with each graduate student on the project(s) privately, at least once a year. The oversight committee must assure that each student who has decided to work on the research project is fully informed of the investigator’s conflict of interest.

The faculty oversight committee is charged to put in place appropriate protections and controls to safeguard the academic welfare of the student(s) and to assure that satisfactory academic progress is sustained. This might include acting in the capacity of a second advisor for a particular student or reviewing a student’s progress on their dissertation.

The faculty oversight committee shall provide a written report of its findings to the chair or dean of the investigator’s department at least once per year. The reports should be responsive to all questions posed and all information requested.

Annual Written Report

The faculty oversight committee shall provide a written report to the department chair or dean at least once per year using the Department Oversight Review Committee Annual Report form. The department chair or dean has the authority to require more frequent reports. The department should retain the report and it should be made available to the Conflict of Interest Committee and the Conflict of Interest Coordinator upon request.

At the completion of the project, the oversight committee will supply the department chair or dean with a final annual report. This report must be made available to the Conflict of Interest Committee and the Conflict of Interest Coordinator upon request.

If serious problems arise during the course of the project, both the department chair or dean and the chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee should be notified immediately.