Preventing harm in research

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. We are committed to promoting positive and inclusive 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
  • The rights of all individuals involved should be protected
  • 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 that are robust and up to date
  • Routes for reporting should be clear and easily accessible, and institutions should take prompt action in response

UKRI policies and guidance

UKRI’s preventing harm (safeguarding) in research and innovation policy

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.

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, and informed the development of UKRI’s bullying and harassment position statement.

UKRI terms and conditions

If you receive funding from UKRI you need to follow general terms and conditions for research grants or training funding, and any specific funding opportunity conditions.

External guidance

The guidance below has not been developed directly by UKRI, but may be a useful resource. Where this advice conflicts with UKRI-produced policies and guidance, UKRI policies and guidance should be followed.

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service’s guidance on handling a bullying, harassment or discrimination complaint at work

This guide provides good practice recommendations.

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.

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

National Institute for Health and Care Research policy on preventing harm in research

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

Universities UK guidance for higher education institutions: how to handle alleged student misconduct which may also constitute a criminal offence

What UKRI is doing in preventing harm in research

We have recently launched the Forum for Tackling Bullying and Harassment in Research and Innovation with partners from funding, policy and regulatory organisations. Through the forum we will:

  • raise awareness of bullying and harassment, and create culture change
  • share learning and practice across organisations
  • promote collaboration across policies and resources, and reduce bureaucracy

In addition, we are currently developing a process for reporting allegations of bullying and harassment and safeguarding concerns, which will see the full implementation of the Preventing Harm policy into UKRI terms and conditions.

We will provide an update on our plans later in 2023.

For further information on our preventing harm policy, please contact us at:


For further information on bullying and harassment, please contact us at:


Last updated: 4 April 2024

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