Reports and IP
Whilst e-mails and telephone calls can address a lot it is always useful for parties to a Research Contract to meet to discuss how things are progressing. These meetings may be needed at various levels depending upon the nature of the Project:
You or your institution may want to hold strategic meetings every 3 or 6 months to review progress against the Research Plan and to decide upon any changes
Project Managers will need to meet together more frequently, probably at least once a month
There may also be a call for meetings between scientists from each side to be scheduled, if you are working separately. Again, these should probably be at least once a month. As there may be some overlap of personnel with the Project Managers they may be on the same day. Even if scientists are working together constantly on the same Project, regular meetings such as these are useful, where they can step back from the Project or review it more formally.
Meetings should be scheduled in people’s diaries at least 3 to 6 months ahead. Be clear about how the rolling programme of meetings will be scheduled and what the minimum period of notice for a meeting will be.
The Research Contract should cover where the meetings are to be held or how the decision will be made as to where they are to be held. It may be that the meetings will alternate between the participants’ premises. They may be on neutral territory, which is easily accessible for everyone. If the research is taking place in one particular laboratory, it can be advantageous to hold meetings at the same premises. If collaborators are in different countries it may be that some or all of the meetings will be by telephone or video conference (although face to face meetings should be encouraged).
Minutes should be kept of all meetings. These may be in a brief or bullet point format for those dealing with more day-to-day matters but for the strategic meetings minutes should be more detailed. It is usual for the Project Manager to take these minutes.
From time to time key decisions will have to be taken in relation to a Project. It will always be necessary to tailor the voting on various issues
to deal with the individual requirements of the collaboration. Different considerations may apply in a 50/50 collaboration where participants will have equal voting rights than where participants’ contributions are unequal.
Where one participant is making a significantly greater contribution than the others, that participant may want the final say on matters to be decided, either through a casting vote or weighted voting rights e.g. where it gets two votes against the other participants’ one vote. It may also sometimes say in the Research Contract that certain decisions e.g. to terminate the research, cannot be taken unless the main contributor agrees.
Particularly in the case of collaborative research, there will be certain matters which the collaborators regard as central to protecting the value
of their investment. It is not uncommon to see these matters requiring consent of all collaborators, even if that can essentially give one participant a right of veto. This arises quite frequently in European Framework Consortium Agreements, where all participants often have to consent before a new collaborator can join the Research Project.