Frequently Asked Questions About Time Commitments Reporting

 

1.     How do I know if an activity should be reported?

a.     If you received direct compensation (i.e., money was not part of an agreement between the outside entity and UW) for an ordinary professional activity or an outside professional activity, the activity must be reported. The sole exception to this rule is compensation from federal agencies for grant review work.

b.     If you did not receive compensation and are engaging in uncompensated activity with an outside entity, it should be reported unless the work is an “ordinary professional activity.” Your dean’s office will provide advice on whether an activity falls into this category. However, so long as there are no other factors contributing to an assessment of time commitments to university responsibilities, the following activities generally fall into the category of ordinary professional activities and do not need to be reported if you do not receive compensation:

 i.     occasional lectures, colloquia, seminars, etc., given at colleges and universities and at meetings of professional societies;

 ii.     evaluation of colleagues at other colleges and universities through participation in program evaluations and tenure and promotion reviews;

iii.     preparation of monographs, chapters and editorial services for nonprofit educational organizations;

iv.     service on review panels for the federal government;

v.     service on advisory committees and evaluation panels and nonprofit foundations and educational organizations;

vi.   leadership positions in professional or scholarly societies.

vii.   other discipline-specific ordinary professional activities may also be identified after review by your dean or director’s office.


2.     Doesn't this new policy contradict the "Wisconsin Idea" – learning from our findings and then distributing to the rest of the state? This policy does not prohibit participation in outside professional activities. It calls for reporting of time committed to outside professional activities beyond the de minimus number of days indicated so that the university is aware of the time commitment and so that an evaluation of any potential impacts to the university can be made. During review, possible alternatives may be offered as a way to manage time commitments.

3.     Is the total amount of time per year or month? The definition of the number of days permitted is per month of the contract period.

4.     If I work for 8 hours in a day, am I then free to do other outside activities that are related to my profession and not count it towards the time limit? The conflict of commitment policy refers to any commitment of effort to an activity related to an individual’s professional expertise that will exceed the indicated time limit, regardless of when that time commitment occurs.

5.     What does ‘normal work hours’ mean? The unclassified staff (i.e., faculty and academic staff) have an employment expectation that their institutional responsibilities will be fulfilled independent of an assignment of hours per day. Overtime is not permitted in contracts for employment of the unclassified staff.

6.     If I go over the annual allowable time, do I need to get the Dean’s approval? If an individual expects to exceed the annual allowable time commitments for outside professional activities, they must report the time commitments. The dean or director's office has responsibility and authority to review and approve or otherwise guide the time commitments of the unclassified staff.

7.     I am doing so much service nationally that I don't have time to teach anymore. This level of national service should be reported in annual progress reports so it can be reviewed by your dean's office and properly acknowledged for its impact on the university mission. Teaching, as well as other faculty responsibilities, may be adjustable on a short-term basis with approval from your dean. However, longer-term commitments that prevent a faculty member from their normal teaching, research, and service must be addressed through formal reassignment of duties.

8.     Who can give me advice on ‘ordinary' professional activities? Your dean or director's office will provide advice on what constitutes ordinary professional activities and may consult with the department chair. The policy document provides some examples of these, and others may be identified and approved by your dean or director’s office.

9.     Do I need to report time spent reviewing grants for a study section? Faithful completion of service obligations, such as in grant reviews for a U.S. federal agency, would be considered as an ordinary professional activity and so time committed would not need to be reported absent other time commitments that might impact the ability of the individual to fulfill their university responsibilities.

10.  Which of the following should I report for time spent reviewing grants for a study section: a) time spent reading and reviewing each grant; b) travel time to attend the study section; c) time spent at study section? Completion of service obligations, such as in grant reviews, would be considered as an ordinary professional activity and so time committed would not need to be reported absent other time commitments that might otherwise adversely impact the ability of the individual to fulfill their university responsibilities.

11.  If I received compensation for reviewing grants for a non-federal agency, do I need to report: (a) time spent reading and reviewing each grant; (b) travel time to attend the review meeting; or (c) time spent at the review meeting? Compensation received for review of grants for US federal agencies does not need to be reported. However, the compensation received for review of grants for any non-federal entity, whether domestic or international, must be reported. Furthermore, the aggregate time committed to the above activity must be reported if it exceeds the de minimus number of days indicated in the policy.

12.  Is attending a scientific meeting that is not associated with a ‘professional society' (e.g., a Keystone meeting) considered an 'ordinary professional activity'? In nearly all circumstances this would be considered an 'ordinary professional activity' so long as there are no other factors that might otherwise adversely impact an assessment of time commitments to university responsibilities.

13.  Does 'editorial service' mean acting as an editor or as a reviewer of manuscripts? In nearly all circumstances, both of these would be considered ordinary professional activities so long as there are no other factors that might otherwise adversely impact the ability of the individual to fulfill their university responsibilities.

14.  If I do editorial service for a journal that is not associated with a professional society, is this considered an ordinary professional activity? In nearly all circumstances this would be considered an ordinary professional activity so long as there are no other factors that might otherwise adversely impact the ability of the individual to fulfill their university responsibilities. If the work being done includes financial compensation, then the work must be reported in the Outside Activities report.

15.  Is volunteering to teach soccer more than two days a month reportable? This specific example of a volunteer activity, which is apparently not related to an individual’s professional experience and institutional expectations in research, teaching, or service, would not be reportable under the conflict of commitment policy so long as there are no other factors that might otherwise adversely impact the ability of the individual to fulfill their university responsibilities.

16.  Regarding teaching, is it acceptable for one faculty colleagues to cover for another because the latter has an important "Ordinary Professional Activity" like attending a study section or a key scientific meeting? Faculty seeking to exchange assigned teaching responsibilities, or any other institutional responsibilities, should follow their school/college and/or departmental procedures regarding reporting of colleague coverage of instruction before the proposed exchange. Faculty may not enlist postdoctoral fellows or graduate students to perform their assigned teaching responsibilities in order to engage in outside professional activities, unless the graduate student holds an instructional appointment, and the assignment has been approved through the appropriate process in your school or college.

17.  What if I am invited to give a seminar overseas and my host pays my way? Is that allowed? The University encourages this type of scholarly activity. University policies allow faculty and staff to make presentations regardless of whether the sponsor provides financial support. If it is received, financial compensation from both domestic entities and international entities at any level, including universities, is reportable according to UW System regulations. Whether this activity constitutes a financial conflict of interest or a conflict of time committed needs to be evaluated in the context of the individual’s involvement in teaching, federally funded research, human subjects research, and other university responsibilities.

18.  I don’t always get a receipt if someone else is paying my way to an international or domestic conference. So how do I report this? Researchers on federally funded grants are required to report the sponsor of the travel, the location, and the number of days required for the sponsored travel event, which are all reasonably known to the individual. A financial receipt is not requested.

19.  Is international collaboration allowable? The UW-Madison encourages collaboration, domestic or otherwise, when carried out within the guidance of existing policies. If the time needed for travel exceeds the annual allowable time commitments, if research support not managed by UW-Madison is received, or if financial compensation or honoraria are involved, then the details must be reported in Outside Activities Report. Recipients of federal grants should also report these activities in their Biosketch, Other Support documents in new grant applications, and progress reports.

20.  If a lab member asks an international colleague for expertise, is this a concern (intellectual property)? Scholarly exchange with others, whether domestic or international, is encouraged by UW-Madison and is also considered to be an ordinary professional activity. All unclassified staff are reminded of UW System requirements to identify and report all inventive acts achieved while employed by UW-Madison, and to also be aware of requirements of the Bayh-Dole Act regarding disclosure of inventions supported by grants from the US government.

21.  If I received $500 for a virtual seminar presented to a foreign university, is that a problem? Any compensation received from outside professional activities is reportable as required by UW System policies. For individuals participating in federally funded research or human subjects research, compensation in excess of $5000 is identified by federal definitions to be a significant financial interest and may be subject to additional review and institutional management.