Procedures for responsible conduct of research and freedom of research in collaboration with external parties – unconditional grants, donations and deeds of gift





Reach consensus on expectations

Reach consensus with the external party on expectations regarding the project, each other, the overall framework and what products the collaboration is to produce, including research dissemination and communication. In other words, think the entire process through before initiating the collaboration.

Make sure that the department/school head is prepared to host the project, and on what financial terms.

Decide whether it is necessary to enter into a written collaboration agreement, cf. below. 

If the external collaboration involves sharing personal data, special rules apply (GDPR), and a written collaboration agreement must always be entered into, including the relevant agreement on sharing personal data.

Be aware of any potential conflicts of interest in the event that you are an AU researcher with dual employment. Read more about AU's rules for sideline employment in the staff policy document.

Be aware that there may be accounting implications in regard to VAT if there are conditions attached to the grant. Read the quick guide

Potential conflicts of interest

Analyse the potential conflict of interest

Identify the potential conflict of interest. This applies to all parties to the collaboration. Inform your immediate supervisor before the collaboration is formalised. Discuss any concerns about potential conflicts of interest with your immediate supervisor.

Definition: Conflicts of interest are situations in which researchers have financial or other interests that may compromise or influence their research findings. What is decisive in this regard is not whether the research actually is influenced by the conflict of interest, but that there are grounds for suspicion, well-founded or not, that it may have been.

Written agreement

Determine whether the grant letter will serve

Determine whether the notice of award will suffice as a written agreement – this is generally the case. Contact TTO at (general questions about agreements) or Accounts Receivable (specific questions about grant letters) if you are in doubt. 

Make sure that there is an agreement on how costs are to be split between the parties of the agreement and any other financial conditions when the collaboration is formalised (for example a total budget).

Register the notice of award (or the agreement) and any associated correspondence in the archiving system. This is the responsibility of the AU researcher.

Pledges of unconditional donations must be sent to the faculty’s finance department. 

your faculty’s additional requirements for research projects and collaboration agreements:


Organisation and finances

Agree on division of responsibility and financial management

Agree on a clear division of roles and responsibilities that is understood by everyone involved.

Make sure that financial management is in compliance with the Instructions regarding external grants.

Data Management

Collection and storage

Collect, store and share research data

Collect, store and share research data in compliance with the university’s Instructions for storage and processing of research data

Definition: Data are defined as all material collected systematically for research purposes, including electronic data, for example from registers, surveys or interviews, notes, texts, literature, images, human material such as blood or tissue or material from animals, including biobanks.

Publication and communication

Quality assurance

Perform peer review

Make sure that research publications are subject to peer review in accordance with best practice within the field in question.

Definition: Peer review is a process for ensuring the quality of research publications. Peer review of publications involves an evaluation of the publication by qualified researchers within the field as a condition for acceptance for publication in a journal or other media. Peer review may be anonymous or performed by an editorial committee. The type of peer review depends on the field and its traditions. The following requirements also apply to peer review:

  • Peer review must always take place before publication.
  • At least one reviewer must be independent of the publisher/institution.
  • Peer reviewers must have research qualifications.
  • The review must evaluate the originality and scientific/scholarly quality of the publication.


Disclose relevant relationships the publication

Disclose all relevant relationships openly in the final publication or research communication, so that it is clear that the publication complies with the central principles.

At a minimum, the following must be openly disclosed:

  • potential conflicts of interest
  • funding
  • authorship
  • quality assurance (peer review)
  • the nature of the external party’s contribution.

Publication and press

Disclosure in press materials and other forms of communication

Be aware that the above guidelines on disclosure also apply to any press materials and other forms of communication.

Disclose any other relationships that may involve potential conflicts of interest in regard to the research or the individual researcher in any press materials and other forms of communication.

Be aware of the external party’s press materials and other forms of communication. These materials must be approved if Aarhus University’s name is mentioned. Contact your immediate supervisor if in doubt.

Cite the external party as a source if the external party’s press materials and other forms of communication are published on AU’s platforms.

Comply with
 Universities Denmark’s principles for good research communication. (In Danish only)


Cite external partners as authors

Cite external partners as authors in accordance with AU’s definition of authorship.

Definition: A contributor is defined as an author if they have made a significant contribution to the publication in question, if the contribution has been acknowledged by all other authors, and if the contribution at a minimum comprises:

  • Substantial contributions to research idea or design, data collection, analysis or interpretation of data
  • Substantial contributions to the drafting of the publication.

Read a more detailed discussion of authorship in the Policy for research integrity, freedom of research and responsible conduct of research.