Below is a list of the most common forms of agreement used in relation to research arrangements. The following details are intended to assist you in understanding the type of agreement you may require but if you are unsure Research Development and Support are happy to assist in guiding you to the most appropriate document.

Note that all of the agreements listed below must be signed off by the delegated authority of the University and staff cannot sign agreements on behalf of the University with third parties.


Clinical Trial Agreement

A Clinical Trial Agreement sets out the terms and conditions for a research study designed to test the safety and/or effectiveness of drugs, devices, treatments, or preventive measures in humans.


Competitive Grant Agreement

Competitive Grant Agreements are used to specify the terms and conditions for acceptance of a competitive grant. Note the content of these agreements are governed by the granting body and are often non-negotiable. Where there is collaboration with another party or subcontracting is required to complete the grant requirements, a further Research Collaboration Agreement or Subcontract may also be required.


Confidentiality Agreement

Also referred to as a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA), Deed of Confidentiality and Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) this document is used where one or both parties will be disclosing confidential information to the other party, and sets out the terms around what that confidential information can be used for and who it can be released to. If you believe you will be disclosing confidential information, particularly if it relates to a potentially patentable invention or commercially sensitive research, contact the Research Development and Support as soon as possible prior to your discussion so that an agreement can be put in place before any information is disclosed.


Consulting Agreement

A Consulting Agreement is used where a University staff member is providing expertise to a third party on commercial terms and rates.  These agreements are managed by the Faculties with input from the Legal Services Unit.


Intellectual Property Deed

A staff member or student may be asked to enter into an Intellectual Property Deed with Flinders University to clarify or transfer the ownership and treatment of specified intellectual property that has or may be created. This is often required by external funders as one of the conditions of their funding award.


Material Transfer Agreement

Where researchers wish to send or receive materials to or from external organisations for use in their research, a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), will often be required. MTAs are appropriate where the owner of the material wishes to formalise the permitted uses of the material, the ownership or sharing of ownership of the material, (and any research outputs arising from the use of the material), and also where it is desirable to clearly establish with which party the risk and liability in relation to the use of the material will lie.

If you wish to arrange for an MTA to be put in place, or for an external MTA to be reviewed, please follow the instructions contained in the Materials Transfer Guidelines and Form (DOC 57KB) .


Memorandum of Understanding

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is generally used where a non-legally enforceable arrangement or understanding between two or more parties is desired, and is often likened to a “gentlemen’s agreement”. Although some or all of the MoU may not be legally enforceable it is still subject to the delegations of authority of the University and may require legal review. This is because an MoU is often relied on to show the intentions of both parties where enforceable agreements are subsequently put in place, and it is important that documented arrangements within the MoU are consistent with University policies and procedures from the outset.


Research Collaboration and Multi Institution Agreements

A Research Collaboration or Multi Institution Agreement sets out the terms and conditions for the completion of a specific collaborative research project involving the input of other parties besides the party in receipt of the funding (often referred to as the lead or administering party). They serve to lay out the conditions on which the project funding is dispersed between the collaborators, and also ensure that all collaborators are bound to comply with the relevant funding body terms. The parties to the agreement may include other research institutions, government and industry partners collaborating on the project.


Secondment Agreement

Where a University staff member is seconded for all or part of their employment to another organisation, a Secondment Agreement sets out each of the parties rights and responsibilities in relation to the staff member and may include: reporting structure, salary payments, ownership of intellectual property, treatment of confidential information and obligations regarding the staff member’s publication and deliverables as part of the secondment. Secondment agreements are generally handled by Human Resources, but input from Research Development and Support is often required where the secondment relates to research activities.


Student Funding Agreement

Applications for externally funded grants, scholarships and top-ups made by postgraduate students are generally administered by the University on behalf of the student. This is because the funders often require the student’s home institution to administer the award on the student’s behalf. In practice this means that, where successful, these awards are handled by the Grants Finance Office, and disbursed to the applicant in line with the award conditions. Contractual enquiries relating to undergraduate students should be referred to Student Finance.


Subcontract Relating to Provision of Research Services

Where a primary contract, such as a Competitive Grant Agreement or a Research Collaboration Agreement, is in place but a further arrangement is required to secure services of a third party to complete the deliverables in the primary contract, a subcontract will be entered into. It is important to note the distinction between a services subcontract and a research collaboration agreement, the latter being used for collaborative research activities rather than service provision.  A subcontract is generally subject to the terms and conditions of the primary contract and the two agreements need to be read and complied with concurrently.


Variation/Novation Agreement

A Variation Agreement may be used to vary the terms of an original agreement where circumstances have changed, such as to extend the end date of the agreement, alter the deliverables or funding amounts.

A Novation agreement is used where one of the parties to the agreement will no longer be participating in the agreement but their role will be taken over by a third party in its entirety.

Note that a variation or novation agreement cannot be put in place after the term of the original agreement has ended. If an agreement needs to be varied due to a change in circumstances or novated due to a party being replaced, ensure that sufficient notice is provided to Research Development and Support so that the appropriate agreement can be put in place before the end date of the original agreement.


Further resources you may find useful…