Improving international research collaboration

Canvas painted with harsh strokes of green, yellow, orange, red and pink

A consortium led by ARMA UK will explore how recommendations made by an earlier report could support the aims of Trusted Research.

The consortium was awarded £99,149 from the Research England Emerging Priorities fund to consider the recommendations from the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA)-led report. The report is called ‘Due Diligence in International Research – Options for Improved Efficiency, Equity and Quality’.

It will consider how the recommendations could be broadened to encompass all international research collaborations and address the Trusted Research agenda and wider security related issues.

Due diligence report

The ARMA ‘Due Diligence in International Research’ report was published in April 2021.

It recommended that higher education sector agencies should collaborate to establish a due diligence clearing house and national service in support of due diligence for international research.

This should be funded in the first instance by a consortium of UK research funders and government departments.

Building on the initial report

The Efficiency, Equity, Quality and Security in International Research Collaboration project will build on the initial report to deliver updated findings and recommendations by:

  • broadening the focus of this work beyond Official Development Assistance funded research to include all international research collaborations and with an enhanced focus on Trusted Research, including links to export control and the National Security and Investment Act
  • engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders to better understand current challenges with operationalising due diligence the requirements of Trusted Research
  • understanding the feasibility of a clearing house and national service as part of a solution to the identified challenges and establishing the demand for such a service
  • working in partnership with Jisc, drawing on their specific expertise in providing digital infrastructure and services to assess the feasibility of a clearing house for due diligence and Trusted Research
  • exploring appropriate ownership and funding models for a clearing house and national service and producing a detailed cost-benefit analysis to quantify the potential saving to the sector.

Stakeholder engagement

The ARMA-led consortium will undertake a series of stakeholder engagement events in the coming months in order to produce a written report to Research England in October 2022. The consortium includes Northumbria University, University of Stirling and partner JISC.

Jennifer Stergiou, Chair of ARMA and Director of Research and Innovation Services at Northumbria University, said:

The Efficiency, Equity, Quality and Security in International Research Collaboration project will enable ARMA to build upon our previous recommendations in this space to consider the implications of the Trusted Research agenda for how the higher education (HE) sector undertakes due diligence.

The project responds directly to needs identified by ARMA members, by funders, and other stakeholders across the sector.

By keeping research management at the core of this project we aim to propose a series of recommendations on how due diligence and Trusted Research can be integrated in a way that promotes improved efficiency, equity, quality and security.

Identifying common solution

David Sweeney, Research England Executive Chair and Research England Development Fund Chair, said:

International collaboration is critical to our HE sector, but not without its challenges.

Research England has seen commitment and continued levels of engagement from the sector across the Trusted Research and wider security agenda.

We need to strengthen existing activities and identify opportunities to do more, but we need to do this safely, appropriately, and with confidence.

ARMA’s project will seek to identify a common solution for the sector which makes an increasingly complex regulatory landscape easier to navigate and I look forward to its report in the autumn.

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