Research

Trusted Research

Trusted Research

Introduction

Trusted Research aims to support the integrity of international research collaborations. Universities and academic researchers work in an increasingly complex environment and whilst there are many benefits of international collaboration, there are also potential risks.  Those working in academic research need to be aware of these risks and how to protect themselves, their research and the University. These include:

  • Potential breach of national or international legislation
  • Interference with academic freedom
  • Reputational risk for individual researchers and Institutions
  • Loss of data, results or other intellectual property through theft, cyber espionage, or other means.

International collaborative work can be at risk of misuse by organisations who operate in nations whose democratic and ethical values differ from our own.  It can enable such organisations to work with researchers who are experts in a field of cutting edge research and innovation, and have access to the results of that work. As such, it could provide nations or organisations with hostile intent overt access to expertise, IT networks and research which may be used for unethical or illegal purposes. Naturally this type of misuse lends itself more to certain fields and disciplines but all international research collaboration needs to consider the implications.

UKRI have also produced Trusted Research and Innovation Principles which can be found here: UKRI-170821-TrustedResearchandInnovationPrinciples.pdf

This has been supplemented by the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) which includes specific guidance for academics and can be found here:  Trusted Research Guidance for Academia | CPNI

Assessing the risk:

Partner (including collaborators and funders) suitability

Before working with an overseas partner consider if:

  • They are linked to a state with different democratic or ethical views to ourselves.
  • They work with other organisations that may raise moral or ethical concerns.
  • There is information in the public domain relating to the partner which raises concerns.
  • The collaboration would cause a conflict of interest between researchers and/or funders.

Managing Information and Knowledge Sharing

Considerations:

  • Could the research have dual-use or applications other than the specified or intended use ie could it potentially be utilised for military or defence applications?
  • What information will be available to the partner organisation and what measures are in place to offer protection?
  • Could the partner obtain direct or indirect access to information outside of the research project?

Legal Frameworks

There are certain legal frameworks which are applicable to international research collaborations:

  • If there is an acquisition of an entity or asset, which includes intangible assets such as Intellectual Property, then the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act may be applicable. More information can be found here: NSI Act
  • If there will be a transfer of goods, technology or data then export control legislation may be applicable. 
  • If the collaboration will involve new international researchers (or students) coming to work with us the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) may apply.

Contact us

If you have any questions or queries relating to any of the aspects above please contact the Research Policy Intelligence and Ethics Team at: res.policy@ncl.ac.uk