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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Research Knowledge Base

Research Close-Out Checklist

This page provides an overview of the steps that an investigator and departmental staff should follow to safely and efficiently close research for a specific PI or a laboratory on campus. These items, and others applicable to the specific activities of the researcher, should be completed prior to the departure of an investigator from the University.

Ensure that investigator and study team has completed/arranged for the completion of the following items as applicable prior to departure from the University or have departmental staff complete if researcher(s) are not available. 

The checklist covers: Oversight Approvals; Research Materials; Laboratory Space and Equipment; University Data and Materials; Access Control; and Human Resources and Administration.

1. Oversight Approvals

  • Contact Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) and the relevant research oversight office(s) to close the protocol(s).  For WARF funded 135 accounts, please contact Russell Schwalbe.  This includes but is not limited to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Research Animal Resources and Compliance (RARC), Biosafety, and Stem Cell Research Oversight (SCRO).Investigators should contact Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) to determine what steps are needed.
    • Investigators with approved IRB protocol(s) will need to submit a final closeout report in ARROW or change the protocol to add a new PI.
    • Investigators with an approved IACUC protocol(s) will need to terminate the protocol if no animals are assigned. Animal usage must be reported at the time of protocol closure.  If the work will continue, the protocol must be amended to add a new PI.
    • Investigators with an approved Biosafety protocol will need to request inactivation of the protocol in Bio-ARROW.
    • Investigators with a SCRO protocol will need to submit a closure in ARROW or change the protocol to add a new PI.

2. Research Materials

  • Ensure appropriate disposition/transfer of animal colonies. Contact Research Animal Resources and Compliance (RARC) Veterinarians.
  • Inventory any chemicals and properly dispose of them through Environmental Health and Safety (or transfer to other labs).
  • Inventory biological materials and samples, including animal and human tissues, and properly dispose of them (or transfer to other labs). Autoclave or make safe by other means before disposal. Contact Office of Biological Safety for assistance.
  • To transfer human subjects research data or specimens to a new location, you may need to have a data transfer and use agreement (DTUA) or material transfer agreement (MTA) in place.
  • Inventory radioactive materials, radioactive waste, and properly dispose of them through the Office of Radiation Safety. Contact Office of Radiation Safety for assistance. Any transfer or disposal of radioactive materials must be in accordance with the Office of Radiation Safety procedures.
  • Identify any incoming Material Transfer Agreements under which materials were transferred to the laboratory, and assure any materials covered by such MTAs are disposed of as provided by the terms of the MTAs.
  • Identify any non-disclosure agreements in effect for information received by the lab from third parties, and transfer or otherwise appropriately dispose of all such information as required by the terms of the non-disclosure agreement.
  • Properly package and label for transport any hazardous materials that are to be shipped off-campus. Ensure packaging and labeling is done by individual who has completed hazardous materials shipping training. For Registered Select Agent laboratories, consult with the Select Agent Program for proper laboratory close-out procedures. Any transfer of Select Agents must be in accordance with Select Agent regulations.
  • For any international shipments of hazardous or research materials, including Select Agents, consult with the Export Control Office to secure any necessary export control licenses and consult with the Office of Biological Safety for other import/export requirements that may apply.
  • Properly dispose of all DEA controlled substances. Permission to transfer controlled substances must be obtained from the DEA. Transfer responsibility of remaining materials and samples to other employees.
  • Properly dispose of all remaining hazardous waste. Contact Environment, Health and Safety for assistance.
  • If a study is being closed rather than transferred to a new PI, ensure any drugs and devices acquired through research agreements are accounted for and returned to the sponsor or otherwise disposed of according to the terms of the clinical trial agreement.

3. Laboratory Space and Equipment

  • Review Environment, Health, and Safety Lab Move Guidelines for lab move, cleanup, and decontamination guidelines.
  • For spaces and items used for radioactive materials, contact the Office of Radiation Safety to complete closeout surveys of the rooms and items.
  • Remove warning stickers (such as stickers indicating the presence of radioactive materials) from areas to which they no longer apply.
  • If leaving a biosafety lab, decontaminate lab as appropriate based on designated Biosafety Level. Contact the Office of Biological Safety for assistance. Decontaminate lab equipment that you intend to discard.
  • Clean out all laboratory drawers, being sure to avoid sharps. Properly dispose of all sharp items, including glass, pipettes, and syringes, or transfer to another laboratory if unused. Place sharps, including contaminated sharps, in safe containers before disposal.
  • Discard unwanted glassware as SHARPS using appropriate packaging to ensure safe disposal.
  • Survey all shared areas to locate and appropriately dispose of the lab's hazardous materials.
  • Contact SWAP for the disposal of any surplus equipment or furniture.
  • Contact your Department Property Administrator at least 30 days prior to the anticipated date of disposal or transfer of any grant-funded equipment, or capital equipment with a Property Control Sticker.
  • Evaluate units containing refrigerants to determine if refrigerant needs to be removed. Contact Environment, Health and Safety for assistance.

4. University Data and Materials

  • Identify and transfer to department official or next responsible party all laboratory notebooks, data, and other intangible materials in which the university has a remaining interest. Consult and comply with the University policy on Data Stewardship.
  • If the intent is to transfer data to a new institution, the University policy on Data Stewardship requires approval by the Vice Chancellor for Research to transfer as this requires a transfer of Stewardship.  Work with School, College, Division Contacts if the intent is to transfer research data. 
  • Identify any new materials, samples, prototypes, or other tangible property created in the lab during research activities.  Consult and comply with the University policy on Tangible Research Property. Ensure a Material Transfer Agreement or similar agreement is executed for any transfer of materials or other tangible items to another institution.  Refer to Section 2 for information regarding shipping, packaging, and exporting materials and equipment.
  • To transfer data from Qualtrics surveys, follow UW–Madison Qualtrics- Requirements to Transfer Surveys to Another Organization.
  • With respect to data or materials obtained or created in the course of human subjects research, ensure such data or materials are disposed of or preserved in a manner consistent with the requirements of the consent form or as otherwise directed by the Health Sciences and Minimal Risk Research IRBs. Any transfer of data to a new institution must be completed with IRB review and a data sharing agreement between UW and the new institution.  Contact the IRB Office  or RELIANT if further guidance is needed.
  • Confirm all study records are up to date. If need to transfer study records to a different institution, a administrator from the Office of Research Compliance can assist you. If you are not transferring study records to another institution, you will need to identify a UW employee (usually the new PI or a sub/co-investigator) to assume ownership. Contact the Office of Research Compliance once you have found a new owner to complete the reassignment process. Email or call (608) 890-1241
  • Identify any other confidential information in the lab, such as employment files and records of student activities, and ensure that any such records are maintained or disposed of properly.
  • For assistance with disposal, contact the Office of Research Compliance or University Records Management Program.

5. Access Control

  • Return all keys to department and disable WiscCard functions, including keycard access.
  • Disable punch-code access to locked facilities.
  • Withdraw access to proprietary software and internal websites.
  • Return university-owned laptop computers, mobile devices, and other electronics.
  • Disable employee email account and other NetID resources.
  • Notify UW Health to disable access to Health Link.
  • Withdraw/remove from internal email lists.
  • Collect/terminate parking permits.
  • Withdraw access to subscriptions to outside services/organizations paid for by the university.

6. Human Resources and Administration

  • Ensure that students and researchers have been reassigned and all human resources responsibilities have been fulfilled.
  • Advise consultation with human resources regarding termination of employee benefits.
  • Obtain future address and/or phone number of employee.
  • Ensure that teaching responsibilities have been transferred, if appropriate.
  • Ensure that all outstanding travel reimbursements have been submitted and processed.
  • Alert outside entities that interface with departed employee of the departure, and provide new point of contact as applicable.
  • Arrange for replacements on boards and committees.

Keywords: research close-out, lab Close-Out Checklist, research materials, lab space and equipment, university data and materials, access control, human resources and administration