Conflict of interest, commitment

Although there is no policy against working outside of MIT while a registered student, there are issues of conflict of interest and conflict of commitment. The student interested in working part time off campus, and who is a US citizen or permanent resident, should first speak to his or her research advisor about the nature of the proposed work. The advisor must be assured that the work will not compromise the time that the student is expected to devote to research at MIT, and that the outside work does not compromise or infringe upon patent or intellectual property rights related to the student’s MIT research. The student also must ensure that the outside work does not violate any departmental policy.

Under certain conditions students may benefit from part time involvement in outside professional activities of faculty members. Prior approval for students wishing to engage in such activities can be granted by the department head after suitable discussion with the faculty member and student.

In considering such arrangements, faculty should be guided by the need to avoid conflicts of interest and to avoid infringement of the student’s academic duties and rights. Generally, if the faculty member has a role in supervising the student’s thesis or in supervising the work of the student as a graduate teaching assistant or Instructor-G, such employment should not be undertaken, thus avoiding potential conflicts of interest in the evaluation of the student’s performance. If the faculty member does not have a role in supervising the student’s thesis and/or the student’s work as a teaching assistant or Instructor-G, the employment may be undertaken. If the outside work is related to the student’s thesis, special care should be expended to avoid conflict.

Faculty members who are already associated with students in outside employment should disqualify themselves from becoming research supervisors, academic program advisors, or examiners of those students. Within an MIT research laboratory or academic unit, faculty members should take care not to give the impression of favoritism to those students with whom they are associated in outside employment.

Generally, full time research assistants should not be employed in outside professional activities of faculty, both to avoid conflicts of interest and in light of the obligations of the full time research assistant. A part time research assistant may engage in such employment if the outside work is not thesis-related and if the faculty member is not his or her supervisor.

MIT policy regarding joint outside professional activities involving faculty and students may be found in MIT Policies and Procedures section 4.5.2.