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Research ethics and integrity

Research security

Guidance for researchers engaged in collaboration on considering potential security risks and how to prevent or mitigate them.

Security related issues

Researchers need to be aware of potential security risks when collaborating internationally.

Universities UK has developed guidance for the sector on Managing risks in internationalisation: security related issues (PDF, 0.8 MB)

Universities UK note that "these guidelines are intended to support universities, enabling them to protect themselves, their staff and students, and to manage risks associated with internationalisation, amid intensified international strategic competition, political polarisation and backlash against globalisation."

The National Protective Security Authority (NPSA - formerly the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI)) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have also provided guidance via the Trusted Research campaign. UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) describe Trusted Research as "a research and innovation sector term for protecting the UK’s intellectual property, sensitive research, people and infrastructure from potential theft, manipulation and exploitation, including as a result of interference by hostile actors."

Considerations

Collaboration between researchers is not to be discouraged but as a researcher you have a responsibility to consider the risks involved, including the potential misuses and ulterior motives of your collaborators. Researchers need to understand the potential applications of their research. Below is a list of considerations:

  • Commercial value
  • Could it have dual use – military applications for example?
  • Could it violate human rights?
  • Sensitive material

Secure research collaboration is vital to ensure activities are done safely and securely and that the associated risks are minimised. When working collaboratively researchers need to consider:

  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Integrity
  • Legal and regulatory risk
  • National security
  • Reputation
  • Trust

When considering a collaboration, a wealth of information can be found via an internet search. A list of key words to search under include:

  • [Institution Name] + Controversy
  • [Institution Name] + Military
  • [Institution Name] + Security

External guidance, legislation and UK sanctions

Further information and guidance on trusted research from the UK government and others:

Please note that there is legislation that may apply to some academic collaborations (Academic Technology Approval Scheme, Export Control, National Security & Investment Act). If you require further support, please contact the Research Office.

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