How Tos for Researchers: Common Experiences and Situations

How to Work With an Invention Disclosure

An Innovation Disclosure is an internal document used at N.C. A&T to describe an inventive idea or object, establish inventorship rights, and as a record of disclosure to a third party of the invention. The document is used by the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) to determine the commercial potential of the invention, evaluate the patentability of the invention, and as a record of compliance with laws regarding federally funded research (Bayh-Dole Act). This document is considered to be Business Confidential information and generally will not be disclosed to persons outside the University without a need-to-know.

The inventor(s) fill out a single form for each disclosure.  Include the % that each inventor contributed to the invention. Keep in mind that all named inventors may not have contributed equally to the invention. Describe the invention in sufficient detail so that someone reasonably skilled in the art would understand the nature of the invention and its utility. Submit the completed Innovation Disclosure to the Office of Technology Transfer.

Upon receipt of the completed Innovation Disclosure and in conjunction with inventor interviews, the OTT will begin a determination of the market potential of the invention. Subsequently, the OTT will investigate the intellectual property landscape in the field of the invention to determine if the invention meets minimum criteria for novelty, un-obviousness and utility. The market and patentability information is considered by the Intellectual Property Committee who will determine if the invention is suitable for patent protection and commercialization.

How to Work With a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) provides an outline of a desired relationship between the University and an external partner. The partner could be another university, a government entity (typically foreign), a corporation, or a philanthropic organization. The MOU typically describes the area(s) of proposed collaboration, the responsible personnel from both parties, the responsibilities of the parties, and the anticipated duration of the relationship.  The agreement is generally non-binding and can be readily cancelled. The MOU is usually a precursor to a more formal and definitive agreement between the parties that details responsibilities, funding, resources, reporting requirements, duties, contract period, and other obligations.

An MOU may originate from the University or be received by the University from an outside source. In either case, the procedure is the same:Carefully read the MOU and note any changes (using track changes in Word) you would like to see in the final document.

  • Send the MOU with your comments to the Vice Provost for OSPIE in the Provost’s Office who will read it next.
  • Depending on the content of the MOU, the Vice Provost will share it with others and request they also review it and return their comments to her/him.
  • The MOU will then go to the Provost for review and return to OSPIE.
  • The Vice Provost of OSPIE will forward the MOU to the Procurement Services Office for review.
  • It will go next to Legal Affairs for review.
  • The final step is Legal Affairs having it signed by the appropriate university officer.

Unless directed otherwise, MOUs are signed as follows:

  • Research-related MOUs are signed by the Vice Chancellor of DORED
  • Business-related MOUs are signed by the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance
  • Academic MOUs are signed by the Chancellor or his designee

How to Work with a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

Sometimes referred to as a Confidentiality Agreement, an NDA provides the basis for two or more parties to share confidential information with the understanding that the subject information will not be disclosed to anyone outside the agreement. This type of agreement is used to protect business information, inventions, technical data, designs, etc. that originates with one party (Disclosing Party) who desires to collaborate with another party (Receiving Party) to achieve some mutually beneficial goal. The NDA may be in the form of a one-way agreement in which only one party discloses confidential information, or a mutual agreement in which both parties may each disclose confidential information in their possession. The subject matter covered and duration of the agreement are typically defined as explicit terms in the NDA.

If using a University approved format of the NDA, it may be presented to another party without modification. If you receive an NDA template from an outside source, it must be reviewed and approved by both the Division of Research and Economic Development and the Legal Affairs office. Any changes to the external NDA will be negotiated with the outside party by personnel in DORED and Legal Affairs.  In either case, the designated signatory for the University is the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development or her designee.

How to Work With a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)

Material Transfer Agreements are used when University materials are transferred to or received from a company or another university for further evaluation, research or development. The MTA provides a description of the material, an explicit chain-of-custody, and the conditions under which the material should be studied or used. No license for use other than as described in the document, or rights to intellectual property related to the material is transferred to the receiver.

If you are transferring University owned materials to an outside party, use the University approved MTA form.  If you are receiving materials from an outside party, they will issue their own MTA that needs to be approved by Division of Research and Economic Development and Legal Affairs. In either case, depending on the nature of the transferred material and the intended research program, additional review and approval by the DORED Compliance Office may be necessary. This approval may require significant time, so please plan accordingly. The final MTA typically requires the signatures of both the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development and the University Principal Investigator or Researcher involved in the study.

How-To Hire a Post Doc:

PI must contact Brenda Lawshe-Jefferson, DORED Business Manager at (336) 285-3174 or to receive a post doc position number.

PI must complete the Postdoctoral Hiring Authorization Form and attach the following documents:

  • Copy of clearance notification using the Criminal Conviction Check Form
    • Important Note: The Criminal Conviction Check Form must be completed by the post doc candidate and submitted directly to Mrs. Penelope Smith, Sr. Staffing Services Specialist, via mail at 1020 E. Wendover Ave. Suite 109 Greensboro, NC 27405 or faxed to (336) 334-7477. If faxed, an original must be sent to Mrs. Smith at the address listed above.  The N.C. A&T hiring manager will receive a confirmation once candidate is cleared and prior to the offer of employment and submission of this request packet.
  • Copy of clearance notification for Export Control using the Foreign National Form
    • Important Note: Only used for non-resident foreign national visitors. To receive the form, please contact Penelope Smith, Sr. Staffing Services Specialist, at (336) 285-3783 or The N.C. A&T hiring manager will receive a confirmation one the candidate is cleared.
  • Signed and dated EPA Administrative and Faculty Employment Application
  • Copy of Employment Offer Letter (template for postdoctoral scholar)
  • Resume/CV
  • Official original transcripts for all degrees (i.e. Ph.D., MS, BS)
    • Important Note: The University does not accept pre-copied, color scanned, unofficial documentation to validate degrees.
  • Signed EHRA Non-Faculty Certifications and Conditions of Employment

    PI will obtain all required Administrative Approval signatures on the Postdoctoral Hiring Authorization Form.

    PI must submit the completed Postdoctoral Hiring Authorization Form and the required supporting documents to Brenda Lawshe-Jefferson, DORED Business Manager at (336) 285-3174 or for the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development for review, position number verification and approval signature.               

    Brenda Lawshe-Jefferson, DORED Business Manager, will submit the approved packet to EPA Salary and Budget Administration for further review and department approval.

    EPA Salary and Budget Administration will acquire the Funding Approval signature from the appropriate administrative office and it will submit the original Postdoctoral Hiring Authorization Form and all supporting documentation to the Student and Foreign National Employment Manager in the Division of Human Resources to complete the final review for employment processing.

    Student and Foreign National Employment Manager forwards complete Postdoctoral Hiring Authorization documents to the Processing Specialist to complete the job action for payroll.

    How-To Reappoint a Post Doc:

    Only submit the Postdoctoral Hiring Authorization Form, a copy of the Reappointment Offer Letter (template for reappointment letter), and a copy of the Postdoctoral Scholar Annual Evaluation Form.  The original postdoc evaluation form should be maintained within the department.