Preventing harm in research

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. We are committed to promoting positive research and innovation environments.

This page outlines our key principles for safeguarding, and preventing and addressing bullying and harassment, along with links to useful sources of information and guidance.

Key principles

  • All individuals involved in the research and innovation process have a role in creating safe and inclusive research and innovation environments
  • Organisations should take an organisation-wide approach to prevention including providing appropriate leadership and management training
  • Organisations must have clear well- publicised policies, processes and training in place
  • Routes for reporting should be easily accessible and institutions should take prompt action in response
  • The rights of all individuals involved should be protected.

General policies and guidance

UKRI’s preventing harm in research and innovation policy (PDF, 8MB)

This policy sets out our expectations of individuals and organisations in their approach to safeguarding those involved in, or that come into contact with, the research and innovation activities that we fund.

The current UKRI standard fEC grant, training grant, Innovate UK competition, and Research England terms and conditions specify clauses that require organisations receiving UKRI funding to have appropriate policies and procedures in place to promote safeguarding and mechanisms for reporting and investigating any allegations relating to a breach in safeguarding. This policy is intended as a framework to support organisations with this.

As organisations familiarise themselves with the framework there will be no changes to UKRI’s current terms and conditions in relation to our safeguarding requirements. However, we plan to update our terms and condition to reflect our preventing harm in research and innovation policy (PDF, 8MB) in the near future. Similarly, we will provide a further update on setting out our expectations of reporting around bullying and harassment cases in autumn 2021.

UKCDR guidance on safeguarding in international development research

This document provides guidance on safeguarding in the form of a series of questions specifically tailored to different groups involved in the research process to aid critical reflection. The focus of the guidance is the international development research context but the question-based approach means it is broadly applicable to other research and innovation contexts.

UKRI bullying and harassment position statement

This statement sets out our vision for tackling bullying and harassment and expectations for organisations that receive funding from UKRI.

Bullying and harassment in research and innovation environments: An evidence review  (PDF, 3.5MB)

Our evidence review looked at what is known about challenges and effective approaches to addressing bullying and harassment in research and innovation environments.

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service’s bullying and harassment in the workplace: a guide for managers and employers (PDF, 196KB)

This guide provides good practice recommendations.

Further guidance

Further guidance and advice on addressing bullying and harassment is set out in the following resources:

UKRI grants terms and conditions

1752 Group/McAllister Olivarius Sector Guidance to Address Staff Sexual Misconduct in UK Higher Education (PDF, 1.3MB)

Office for Students guidance on handling harassment and sexual misconduct in higher education

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Students in Higher Education’s Good Practice Framework: handling student complaints and academic appeals

NIHR Policy on Preventing Harm

UUK sexual harassment guidance (forthcoming)

Last updated: 11 January 2022

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