Please note that the primary policy source for the Research Collaborator program is located within NIH Policy Manual 2300-308-4.
On-Site Research Collaborators (RCs) include but are not limited to scientists, engineers, physicians and other scientific or health care providers who are engaged in research collaborations with the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) staff and are authorized by NIH to engage in scientific studies and investigations with IRP staff using NIH facilities. RCs further collaborative research projects with NIH by interacting with IRP investigators and utilizing equipment and other resources located within NIH IRP facilities that are otherwise unavailable to or not easily accessible by them. There are two kinds of RCs: (1) those who provide no direct services to NIH; and (2) those who, as appointees or detailees under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPAs), provide some services to NIH and function, in part, under the supervision and control of the NIH. Specific permissible activities of a RC will vary, depending upon the mechanism used to bring the person to the NIH and specific program needs. RC agreements must be documented in writing and all RCs must sign a “Research Collaborator Agreement” (see appendices 1-3 of the NIH Policy Manual 2300-308-4.
Research Collaborators cannot be financially compensated by the IRP for their collaborative efforts, but they may be recipients of extramural NIH grants and fellowships, and they may receive funds from commercial collaborators (for instance, as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement [CRADA]) or other sources outside of NIH. RCs who are on Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreements may receive funding from the IRP, consistent with NIH Policy for IPAs, as described in NIH Policy Manual 2300-334-1.
A Research Collaborator is a non-Full-Time Equivalent Employment (FTE) position.
Please be aware that effective April 18, 2011, two new NED classifications became available to appropriately designate a Research Collaborator. The change aimed to correct the situation where individuals were incorrectly classified as either a Contractor or Special Volunteers, which they are not. Two new classifications include:
- Collaborator (Clinical): A non-NIH employee or trainee, employed by or associated with an outside organization, who performs clinical research or rotations at or for NIH pursuant to an agreement (e.g., individuals on a CRADA or other types of agreements)
- Collaborator (Non-Clinical): A non-NIH employee or trainee, employed by or associated with an outside organization, who performs non-clinical research or rotations at or for NIH pursuant to an agreement (e.g., individuals on a CRADA or other types of agreements)
Both NED classification allow for a duration period of either less than or greater than six months.
Please also note that the two new classifications are to be selected only when none of the other classifications appropriately fit. This would be the case for CRADA collaborators and others who are not employees, trainees, or contractors, and do not fit the requirements for a Guest Researcher or Special Volunteer. For additional information, please refer to NIH Policy Manual 2300-308-4.
Research Collaborator appointments are reviewed and approved by the Institute and Center (IC) Scientific Director (SD), or his/her designee (may not re-delegate authority). The SD must approve a document fully describing the research collaboration, with the contributions of each party, as well as the applicable “Research Collaborator Agreement” (see appendices 1-3 of the NIH Policy Manual 2300-308-4.
Check Sheets / Checklists
There is currently no DDIR-approved check sheet or checklist for the Research Collaborator designation. Individual ICs may have additional requirements and check sheets. Please contact your Administrative Officer (AO) or HR Specialist for additional guidance. For examples of IC-specific check sheets and checklists, please visit:
Intramural scientists at the NIH, as is true for all scientists, should be committed to the responsible use of scientific tools and methods to seek new knowledge. While the general principles of scientific methodologies are universal, their detailed application may differ in various scientific disciplines and circumstances. All research staff in the Intramural Research Program should maintain exemplary standards of intellectual honesty in formulating, conducting, presenting, and reviewing research, as befits the leadership role of the NIH.
Within the NIH IRP, the ethical conduct of researchers is governed by the following three disciplines:
Ethics information may also be available through your specific IC. Please contact your Ethics Counselor for additional guidance.
Pay / Compensation
A Research Collaborator cannot be financially compensated by the IRP for their collaborative efforts, but may be recipients of extramural NIH grants and fellowships and/or receive funds from commercial collaborators (for instance, as part of a CRADA) or other outside sources. Research Collaborators on IPA agreements may receive IRP funding consistent with NIH Policy for IPAs, as described in NIH Policy Manual 2300-334-1.
Recruitment Process / Appointment Mechanisms
Please refer to your IC’s recruitment process for Research Collaborator appointments. For additional information, please review NIH Policy Manual Chapter 2300-308-4.
The length of the Research Collaborator assignment and renewal terms will be set according to the needs of the research collaboration and must be stated in the documented research agreement. Length of assignment for Research Collaborators on IPA agreements are limited by the NIH Policy for IPAs, found at NIH Policy Manual 2300-334-1.
A Research Collaborator furthers collaborative research projects by utilizing equipment and resources that are normally unavailable, or not easily accessible, to the individual. Research Collaborators include 1) those that provide no direct services to NIH; and (2) those who, as appointees or detailees under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA), provide some services to NIH and function, in part, under the supervision and control of the NIH. Specific permissible activities of a Research Collaborator will vary depending on the needs of the program as well as the mechanism used to appoint the individual. The SD must approve a document fully describing the research collaboration, with the contributions of each party, as well as the applicable “Research Collaborator Agreement” (see appendices 1-3 of the NIH Policy Manual 2300-308-4.
A Research Collaborator’s on-site appointment will terminate at the conclusion of the research collaboration, and may be terminated at any time prior to that event by either party to the agreement, unless a different termination clause is provided in the applicable documentation of the research collaboration. NIH may terminate an appointment for cause (e.g., personal or scientific misconduct), unsatisfactory performance, or administrative reasons, including but not limited to, programmatic changes and/or budgetary considerations. Except in emergency circumstances, the IC must notify the Division of International Services (DIS), Office of Research Services (ORS) of non-immigrant foreign national terminations at least 30 days prior to their projected end date.
The page was last updated on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 8:47pm