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Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research

A central mission of the University of Colorado is to develop new knowledge and disseminate it openly and freely. This open process is fundamental to academic freedom, a core and defining principle of the University. The ability of researchers and scholars to conduct their research, scholarship, and creative works is often dependent on financial and infrastructure support from outside entities, which include (but are not limited to) federal, state, and private sector sponsors.

While sponsored research is often critical in fulfilling the University’s mission to create and openly share new knowledge, there are circumstances when conditions of sponsorship potentially impose restrictions on academic freedom. In an increasingly complex research funding environment, at times it may be difficult to strike a balance between the interests of sponsor and University.

In order to safeguard academic freedom, the University has developed policies and procedures pertaining to the acceptance of outside support that imposes any type of restriction on publication or information dissemination (e.g. publication delays, prohibitions, other restrictions on disclosure, etc). The University of Colorado System Administrative Policy Statement on Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research can be found at https://www.cusys.edu/policies/Academic/restrictedresearch.pdf. Explicit definitions of restricted, proprietary, and classified research can be found in this document.


The acceptance of research sponsorship that imposes publication restrictions can only be approved by the Chancellor, or the Chancellor’s designee.


On the CU-Boulder campus, petitions to accept research sponsorship that imposes restrictions on publication must be reviewed by the Standing Committee for Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research, which will then make recommendations to the Chancellor, or the Chancellor’s designee.

What to do if you apply for research funding from a sponsor that wishes to impose publication restrictions.

  1. Work closely with the Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) on your proposal and awards. OCG personnel will try to negotiate with the sponsor to remove publication restrictions. If that negotiation is not successful, and you still wish to seek funding from the sponsor, you must formally request a waiver of the policy on Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research (see #2 below).
  2. Apply for a waiver of the University of Colorado System Administrative Policy Statement on Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research. The requirements of this waiver are listed in an appendix to the policy. A clear and compelling justification for why this waiver is being requested must be provided. In addition, student and researcher safeguards against the potentially negative consequences of publication restrictions must be developed and agreed to by all parties involved in the research.
  3. The waiver request should be submitted to Linda Morris at linda.morris@colorado.edu in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.
  4. The CU-Boulder Standing Committee on Restricted, Proprietary, and Classified Research will review the waiver request then make a recommendation on whether or not to approve the request to the Vice Chancellor for Research (or the Chancellor in the case of Classified Research).
  5. The Vice Chancellor for Research (or Chancellor) will make a final determination on the waiver request.
  6. Please download and save the Waiver Request Form. Complete the form on your computer and email it to Linda.Morris@colorado.edu.

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