Research

Research exists at the intersection of the traditions of academic freedom and free speech, government endorsement of unrestricted fundamental research to the maximum extent possible, and concerns about national security.

Research in academic areas outside the scope of US export controls is not restricted.

Research in academic areas in the scope of US export controls may meet the criteria for fundamental research — and if so is excluded from the export control regulations. Each of the export control regimes addresses fundamental research, but with differences. MIT’s policies and OSP reviews are designed to ensure that all research on the MIT campus qualifies as fundamental research, and therefore excluded from export controls. This allows MIT to comply with export control regulations while assuring that “foreign faculty, students, and scholars not be singled out for restriction in their access to MIT's educational and research activities” as required by MIT’s Policy 14.2 Open Research and Free Interchange of Information.

While the intellectual product of fundamental research (publishable results) is excluded from export controls, tangible items resulting from the fundamental research (prototypes, materials, some software) are not excluded. These items may require authorization for export from the US.

Items and technology developed outside MIT are subject to export controls, and remain subject to these controls even if used in fundamental research. All ITAR controls and some EAR controls restrict participation by faculty, students, and scholars of some nationalities, conflicting with MIT’s Policy 14.2 Open Research and Free Interchange of Information. When the research is compelling, there are no alternatives, and the research can still be structured to qualify as fundamental research, researchers can request an exception to this policy from the VP for Research and Associate Provost, but should be aware that exceptions are unusual and rigorously evaluated.

Export control rules differ for Research on Campus, US Research Off Campus, or Research Outside the US.

If you must use export controlled material to perform your research it will constitute an Exception to MIT’s Open Research Policy and must be approved in advance.

MIT's policy only allows restricted material on Campus if the controlled items:

  • make a substantial or critical contribution to the research 
  • the impact of not using the controlled items has been evaluated and is severe or prohibitive
  • alternatives to using the controlled items have been considered and evaluated 
  • the possibility for only non-academic staff to work with the restricted items, leaving academic work unrestricted, has been considered

Being permitted to receive restricted material on Campus is a privilege!

Before restricted material is allowed on Campus, the person responsible for the research will develop a practical and effective Technology Control Plan (TCP) in conjunction with the Export Control Officer. The template for a Request for Exception to Open Research Policy and Technology Control Plan  can be obtained here.

The status of your TCP project will be reviewed annually by ECO.