The website describes what an Academic Visitor is, but can you provide examples of groups that are not subject to the Visitor guidelines?
Yes, the following groups are not subject to the Academic Visitor guidelines:

  • Employees of the University of Pittsburgh
  • Enrolled students at the University of Pittsburgh
  • Minors under the age of 18
  • Students coming to campus from other institutions
  • Participants in academic recruitment tours
  • Job candidates
  • Faculty members with a visiting faculty appointment
  • Individuals classified as post-doctoral associates/scholars
  • Conference and event attendees
  • Vendor representatives making initial business contact or service calls


My Visitor’s Home Institution has a research agreement in place with the University of Pittsburgh. Are individual Visitor agreements also required?
Maybe. If your Visitor’s Home Institution has a research agreement in place with Pitt, it is very likely that terms governing the Visitor’s activities at Pitt are already in place. If you are aware of an institutional agreement that may cover your Visitor, please bring that to the attention of Pitt’s Visitor Liaison so that a proper evaluation can be made as to whether an individual Visitor Participation Agreement or addenda to the base agreement are necessary.

My Visitor may be working on a funded project. Does this fact have any impact on the use of the Visitor Participation Agreement?
Generally, yes. Before inviting a visiting scholar or researcher to work on an externally funded project, you need to review the terms of the funding agreement to first determine whether a non-Pitt person may participate, and then determine whether any special conditions need to be inserted into the Visitor Participation Agreement. Simply issuing the basic Visitor Participation Agreement without taking into consideration the terms of the funding agreement could result in a conflict between the terms of the Visitor Participation Agreement and the funding agreement. Generally, external sponsors assume that only Pitt employees will be working on a project.

The Visitor Participation Agreement may require a signature from the Visitor’s Home Institution in addition to the Visitor. Who may sign on behalf of the Visitor’s Home Institution?
The signatory from the Visitor’s Home Institution should be a person duly authorized under the rules and procedures of that institution to sign such agreements. Those rules may vary from institution to institution.

Who may sign on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh?
The Visitor Agreement (and Lab Addendum and Clinical Space Addendum when applicable) contains a signature line for the University of Pittsburgh. The Dean for each school determines signature responsibility which can be delegated to Department Chairs or Institute/Center Directors at the Dean’s discretion. Department Chairs or Institute/Center Directors can further delegate this responsibility to Vice Chairs or other members of their staff as they deem appropriate, in writing. Individual faculty members are not permitted to sign on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh.

Can someone sign for the proposed Visitor if he or she is unavailable to sign?
No. An original signature from the Visitor is necessary.

What if the individual is not sponsored by a Home Institution?
Visitors who are not sponsored by a third party institution can sign for themselves.

Must the Home Institution sign the agreement if the Visitor is on leave or sabbatical?
Yes. As long as the Visitor retains an employment relationship with his/her Home Institution, an authorized signature from that institution is required.

My Visitor is a French citizen and her Home Institution is located in France. Can I change the “choice of law” term to French law?
No. Because the Visitor will be participating in activities on a Pitt campus, the most relevant applicable law covering those activities is Pennsylvania law. If this is a problem for the Visitor, please contact Pitt’s Visitor Liaison to discuss a possible alternative solution.

We invited a Visitor to attend a two-day symposium to serve as a guest speaker and panel participant. Must we have the Visitor sign the Visitor Participation Agreement?
No. The Visitor Participation Agreement would not be required for this short speaking participation visit. However, if you plan to record the Visitor’s participation in audio, video, or other media format, you will need to document the Visitor’s permission to record via the Visitor Participation Agreement.

I have invited a speaker to campus who is presenting us with a speaker bureau/agency agreement. Should I respond with the Speaker Participation Agreement?
No. Higher profile speakers often work through bureaus or agencies that have their own contractual terms. These speaker bureau or speaker agency agreements should be processed through Purchasing Services. The Speaker/Participation Agreement is for those speakers who are not represented by an agency or bureau.

A Visitor will be conducting research in a scientific (e.g., molecular biology) laboratory. Is it sufficient to have the Visitor sign only the Visitor Participation Agreement?
No. Working in such a laboratory involves a heightened level of risk due to the presence of biological agents and chemicals. In these instances, additional clarification is needed as to the roles and responsibilities of each party and the Visitor’s acknowledgment of inherent risks. Accordingly, the Laboratory Use Addendum form is required in addition to the basic Visitor Participation Agreement.

A Visitor is conducting research in the humanities or social sciences (e.g., history, anthropology, philosophy) and will only be conducting scholarly research in Hillman Library and the department offices. What Visitor agreement form should be used? 
Since no activities will take place in a Pitt laboratory or involve hazardous materials, only the basic Visitor Participation Agreement is required.


A Visitor will be conducting research in a scientific laboratory or clinical department. Is it sufficient to have the Visitor sign only the Visitor Participation Agreement?
No. Working in such a laboratory and/or clinical area involves a heightened level of risk and responsibility due to the presence of biological agents and chemicals and/or patients. In these instances, additional clarification is needed as to the roles and responsibilities of each party and the Visitor’s acknowledgment of inherent risks. Accordingly, a Laboratory Use Addendum or a Schools of the Health Sciences’ Clinical Space Addendum is required in addition to the basic Visitor Participation Agreement.

A Visitor will only be conducting scholarly research in Hillman Library or the Health Sciences Library and the department offices. What Visitor agreement form should be used?
Since visitor activities will not involve laboratory use, clinical space use, or hazardous materials, a Visitor Participation Agreement is the only form of agreement required.

How should Visitors to the Schools of the Health Sciences be managed?
Visitors in the Schools of the Health Sciences are subject to the same requirements as Visitors to other areas of campus. These Visitors cannot perform patient care, but may observe clinical practices, participate in most kinds of research, perform data collection, and participate in other activities after the required training for these activities has been completed. Visitors may not be able to participate in all clinical research activities depending on the UPMC credentialing requirements and IRB requirements.

Can Visitors be in clinical spaces?
Visitors to the University should be collaborating on research or scholarly projects that are conducted by the University. Visitors interested in clinical observation should contact UPMC.

What is the employment relationship between the University and a Visitor?
Visitors are not employees of the University. Accordingly, individuals who perform duties or services for which wages would normally be paid should not be categorized as Visitors.

Can Visitor Agreements be used for someone who is willing to work for free in a lab at Pitt?
No. Visitors should be invited by a department, based on a scientific collaboration and are generally employed by or associated with another institution. The Visitor Agreement should not be used for someone to volunteer to perform work that would generally be considered the work of a paid employee.

When should an individual be appointed as a Postdoctoral Associate or Scholar?
Postdoctoral education and related appointments are subject to the University’s Guidelines for Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Scholars. Postdoctoral Associates and Postdoctoral Scholars are non-faculty positions at the University of Pittsburgh. Individuals may be eligible to be appointed to these positions if certain criteria are met. For additional information in the Schools of the Health Sciences, please contact the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs.

May the Visitor Participation Agreement be used for undergraduate student researchers or trainees?
No. Undergraduate student visitors wishing to participate in research or as an observer are subject to separate undergraduate visitor guidelines, which can be found on the Office of the Provost website. Consult your school to determine the specific process that should be followed.

May the Visitor Participation Agreement be used for graduate student researchers or trainees?
Yes. The Visitor Participation Agreement should be used for graduate student Visitors.

In general, what undergraduate student programs are available at Pitt for those wanting to pursue an academic or research experience?
For University of Pittsburgh undergraduate students seeking research experiences, a variety of opportunities are available through the Undergraduate Research website.

For high school students interested in the health sciences, the University offers several summer research programs.

Students enrolled at local colleges and universities that are part of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (“PCHE”) may cross register through their institutions for research based courses at Pitt under the PCHE Cross Registration Program.

For undergraduate students interested in research opportunities or other short term experiences in the School of Medicine, they should apply through the proper program on their website, and not as a visitor.

Students from other institutions seeking to participate in research experiences at Pitt generally need to have an agreement between their sending institution and Pitt. These student experiences and any agreement will be initiated by the sponsoring department.

If an emergency situation arises in the lab and the Visitor requires medical attention, what should I do?

In any emergency situation, always follow your laboratory’s established emergency procedures. The individual’s status as a Visitor has no effect on your emergency procedures or your response. Questions about whose insurance will provide coverage for the incident are secondary and can be addressed after the incident has been resolved.