Collaboration – with researchers, funders and organisations around the world – is fundamental to the University’s research endeavour. Indeed, research is increasingly a team effort in which the transformative research advances of the future and the solutions to society’s most pressing challenges will almost certainly lie beyond the capacity of a single research group or organisation.
With these factors in mind, Council has agreed a set of Research Collaboration Values for the University. The values have been developed through the Research & Innovation Committee and have evolved in consultation with the academic divisions, in addition to a range of bodies and groups such as the University’s research ethics committees.
While necessarily high level, the values seek to capture the key features on which we expect our research collaborations to be built and which are expected to be present in any formal arrangements or agreements. As such, the values are intended to be useful in informing internal planning and decision-making and also in communicating our expectations and responsibilities to prospective external partners.
Our own collaborative networks are extensive. We are not just home to some of the world’s talented researchers; we also partner with people and organisations in all parts of the world to advance our research mission. Indeed, the collaborative nature of our research portfolio is highly distinctive, for example in the scale and breadth of our permanent overseas research operations in Africa and Asia.
While playing a leading role in this global research endeavour, we must also recognise our responsibilities and that the risks associated with collaboration – particularly in an international context – are dynamic and growing in complexity.
Risks can arise from changes in the global geopolitical environment, increasingly complex legal and regulatory requirements (such as export control or security-related issues) or concerns that some partnerships might place constraints on academic freedom or interfere with academic independence; there also remains the fundamental importance of ensuring the personal safety and security of researchers when travelling or working overseas.
The growing interest and requirements of UK and overseas governments, as well as our research funders, further increase the expectations on research organisations to plan and pursue collaborations responsibly.
The new values include our commitment to:
- pursue bold and ambitious research of exceptional quality, advance knowledge and discovery, and increase the reach and significance of our research on society and people around the world;
- maintain our commitment to academic independence, to research excellence and to the highest standards of research integrity, appoint who we choose to work on our projects consistent with our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and disseminate and use our research freely;
- keep our researchers, collaborators and research participants safe and enable them to undertake their research in compliance with regulatory and legislative requirements;
- identify and mitigate appropriately any risks relating to (i) reputational, ethical or legal issues; (ii) protection of our intellectual assets and our physical and cyber security; and (iii) the potential for our research or collaborations being used by governments or other organisations to undermine human rights; and
- treat our collaborators and research participants equitably and with respect and develop deep and long-lasting partnerships, especially where our collaborations can contribute to greater capacity building in low- and middle-income countries.
View the Research Collaborations Values in full