UW Research

Outside Activity Guidance

Collaboration is at the core of the University of Washington research mission, with a quarter or more of our sponsored program activities involving incoming or outgoing subcontracts, and with personnel participating in seminars, lectures, and continuing education outside of the University and around the globe.

University personnel may seek various opportunities including, but not limited to, dissemination of research, advising and mentoring, consulting and technical advising; or accept invitations for such activities. Some of these engagements may occur in participation with an external entity on behalf of the University of Washington. Other such activities will be deemed outside the scope of the personnel’s University role. University outside activities are divided, generally, into (1) activities exempt from reporting to the University and not requiring University approval; and (2) those considered outside professional work for compensation. Per WA State Ethics in Public Service laws, all activities performed by University personnel, deemed to be outside professional work for compensation, require approval in advance (prior approval). In the absence of such approval, certain outside activities may constitute violations of state law.

Safe Harbor

WA state law has safe harbor provisions for individuals that, when personnel adhere to University policies approved by the Executive Ethics Board, may limit or eliminate imposition of sanctions for conduct permitted by the University policy that may otherwise be restricted or prohibited by state law. The University’s Internal Audit office provides a Guide to Ethics Policies, for more detailed information.

University Personnel

Universities bring together diverse populations and participants, and the University of Washington is no exception. Personnel at the University of Washington are categorized in Administrative Policy Statement (APS) No. 40.1, Types of University Personnel.

These types, or roles, determine which of two University policies applies to an individual: Executive Order (EO) No. 57, or Administrative Policy Statement 47.3.

  • Executive Order No. 57: Faculty, Librarians, and Other Academic Personnel (Residents and fellows, Postdoctoral scholars, Academic staff)
  • Administrative Policy Statement 47.3: Professional Staff, Classified Staff (both Contract Classified and Classified Non-Union), Student Employees, Academic Student Employees, and Other Staff Exempt from Civil Service.

UW Medicine Moonlighting and Outside Work may also apply

Outside “Professional” Work


The word “Professional” is key when making determinations related to an individual’s participation in outside activities. For an outside activity to require disclosure to or approval by the University, it must involve use of the same professional expertise the individual brings to their University activities. Expertise, for example, provided to scholarly, editorial, or advisory bodies; or related to academic, research, or other University activities. The distinction between community service and outside professional work for compensation comes from WA state ethics in public service laws and federal requirements for grantees of NIH sponsored research support (42 CFR Part 50, subpart F).


WA state law restricts University of Washington employees from participating in transactions and professional activities that conflict with their University responsibilities.

Federal policy requires financial interests be disclosed when they reasonably appear to be related to Institutional responsibilities, or those activities performed on behalf of the University. These include activities such as research, research consultation, teaching, professional practice, institutional committee memberships, and service on panels such as Institutional Review Boards or Data and Safety Monitoring Boards.


How do activities get evaluated for relatedness to University responsibilities and how do individuals know approval is required? When making a determination of relatedness it may be useful to consider simplified examples, like outside activities performed for a retail food vendor, such as a burger or pizza shop.

University personnel responsible for research and teaching in engineering also working part-time in customer service at a retail food vendor, would not likely need to notify anyone at the University of this employment or seek prior approval. (Keywords: engineering, customer service, retail food vendor.)

In contrast, personnel with University responsibilities or research interests in a health sciences field, such as epidemiology, may benefit by seeking prior University approval for outside work with a retail food vendor for consulting services related to their expertise or field of study. (Keywords: health sciences, consulting, retail food vendor.)

Individuals who are unsure should contact their supervisor, department, school/college, or campus administration for specific guidance. The Office of Research is also available for consultation (work1460@uw.edu, research@uw.edu).

 Approval Process

The policy applicable to the individual’s role, as described above in the University Personnel section, determines the applicable approval process.

  • Faculty, librarians, and academic personnel rely upon the University document titled ‘Form 1460’ for institutional approval. There may be specific department, school/college, or campus requirements and applicants should contact their local cognizant person or office and review Executive Order No. 57. Additional guidance is available from the Office of Research.
  • Professional, Classified, Academic Student Employees, and other staff rely upon the University document referenced ‘Form 1555’ for school/college or campus approval. These requests are not reviewed or approved by any central campus office. Applicants should reference Administrative Policy Statement 47.3.
  • Students or trainees not additionally employed by the University should contact their mentor, assigned supervisor, or program advisor to learn what review and approvals may be required. This is especially important when there is an international component or if there is a chance the outside activity may relate directly to their academic program or studies at the University. A sample decision tree is available below.

Exclusions and Exceptions

The University has distinct interpretations of the terms exemption, exclusion, and exception as they pertain to outside activities.


Excluded from University policy are those engagements in which the individual is acting on behalf of the University, or otherwise participating in an external activity not otherwise requiring reporting to the University. Activities engaged in on behalf of the University may* include, for example, scientific seminars given at other domestic** Institutes of Higher Education (IHE); these may include acceptance of Honoraria. Activities not requiring reporting to the University don’t involve any reference to, or use of, University research results, intellectual property, or resources and so may include volunteer or service activities unrelated to the expertise or professional services provided by the University person. Other exclusions may include acting as an expert for certain advisory bodies, non-profit professional association societies, and governmental bodies – it is recommended these be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the supervisor or department chair.


Exceptions to outside work policies most often relate to the varying degrees of conflict of interest review requirements imposed on the activity. Deeper Involvement Reviews may not be required, for example, when performing consulting services on behalf of an LLC established solely for this purpose, versus performing the same consulting as a self-employed individual.   

There is an exception applied to de minimis stock holdings, such as those held in retirement plans or mutual funds; these may also benefit from case-by-case determinations to avoid potential conflicts of interest not limited to those covered under the financial conflict of interest policy, Grant Information Memorandum (GIM) 10.

A final exception applies to uncompensated service on boards. Careful consideration for application of this exception is recommended due to the state of WA’s broad interpretation to compensation to include anything of economic value (RCW 42.52.010).

*May require advance approval from supervisor or department chair

**Investigators are reminded of their obligations related to Foreign Interests in Sponsored Programs


The safe harbor created by WA state law would be the ‘exemption’ for activities outside University activities. Consulting one day every other month for a commercial firm in which an individual has no other financial interest and which is not directly related in any of the individual’s University duties would generally be an activity considered exempt under state law, with prior approval via the University’s Outside Work for Compensation process.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Concurrence or Approval?

Concurrence is recommended when participating in an activity falling outside of the University person’s everyday activities, such as speaking as an expert for a non-profit, giving a seminar at another university (institute of higher education), or reviewing CV and other professional materials/packets related to promotion and tenure, or student advising for a non-University entity. Receiving a concurrence does not need to be formal, an email will do.

  • For faculty, an email to your department chair or their delegate or equivalent, notifying them may even be appreciated, especially if you will need to be away from the department and may miss committee or other activities.
  • For professional and classified staff (including Academic Student Employees), see above or APS 40.1, an email to your supervisor listed in Workday should be sufficient but contact them, your department, or school/college for requirements specific to you.
  • Librarians and other academic personnel should contact their Workday supervisor for specific guidance.
  • For students not additionally employed by the University, an email to your mentor, assigned supervisor, or program advisor is recommended.

Approval is required for all outside professional activities for compensation related to University responsibilities unless there is an applicable exception or exemption. When performing outside professional activities for compensation, no University research results or intellectual property may be used or transferred absent an official agreement between the University and the external organization – unless they have already been published and are available to all other third parties.

Approval is also required for all international activities performed on behalf of the University, regardless of the source of support. There may be additional sponsor requirements for International or Foreign Components.

The NIH does not apply Institute of Higher Education (IHE) exclusions to financial interests from foreign institutions of higher education or the government of another country (2018 Reminder).

Honoraria or Compensation?

It is not uncommon for University personnel to receive something of value (known as consideration, such as compensation) in exchange for an outside activity. The outside activity determination is more likely to inform how the University will define the compensation than the nature of the thing of value. And, WA state law imposes restrictions and limitations on University personnel’s acceptance of gifts (RCW 42.52.140, 42.52.150), which increases the importance of documenting the consideration given (service, expert advice, consultation, or testimony provided) when a thing of value is received.

Navigating these decisions may be complicated, due in part to the variety of definitions used to describe things of value. For example: “anything of economic value” (RCW 42.52.010), “money or a thing of value” (EO 43), “an interest, financial or otherwise” (EO 32), “remuneration” (EO 57), and for University staff a threshold of “employment” is imposed (APS 47.3).

The importance of accurately determining the category of the thing of value being received is increased when the University personnel is also participating in research, sponsored programs, or technology transfer activities (GIM 10). Investigators are also reminded of their obligations related to Foreign Interests in Sponsored Programs.


Honoraria, governed by Executive Order No. 43, may include money or other things of value received in exchange in connection with University activities, referenced above in the Exclusions section.

Example: providing a scientific seminar to Stanford University relating to University of Washington research would be an outside activity performed on behalf of the University of Washington and may require local (department, school/college) but is generally not considered outside work and would not require a Form 1460. And, if received by the Office of Research, a Form 1460 for this type of activity may be returned with a determination of “not outside work”.


Compensation, by University interpretation, is associated with outside professional work as described above in the University Personnel section and in relevant policies (Executive Order No. 57, Administrative Policy Statement 47.3).

Example: expert or technical service provided as part of membership on a Scientific Advisory Board of a for-profit company, such as Merck or Gilead, where remuneration is provided (may include sponsored/reimbursed travel). In most cases this will be considered outside work requiring prior approval in accordance with University policy and procedures.

Other Resources

With the variety of University requirements and role types it can be particularly challenging for students and trainees to understand what may be expected of them. To assist with this, the Office of Research, in collaboration with the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, has developed a sample decision tree for evaluating student activities. This tool may be adopted in part or whole by other departments, schools/colleges, and campuses so long as the final procedure is consistent with all relevant policies, laws, and regulations. For those interested in developing such programs they are welcome to contact the Office of Research (work1460@uw.edu, research@uw.edu) for consultation or guidance.

Sample Decision Tree for Evaluating Student Activities