Preventing bullying and harassment

Why this is important

In a world class research and innovation sector there is no place for bullying and harassment – of staff or of students – from any source. Our vision is for an environment in which everyone is supported to contribute on the basis of their talent and skills, and where the wellbeing of staff and students is actively nurtured and promoted as a priority.

The role of UKRI

As the UK’s largest funder of research and innovation, UKRI can – and will – play a significant role in preventing bullying and harassment. We will do this by working closely with our partners and with research organisations and universities.

In 2019, we commissioned an evidence review (LINK) (PDF, 3.3MB) to help inform our approach to preventing bullying and harassment in the research and innovation sector, The review looked at the challenges and analysed the most effective approaches to address the issue.

We used these findings to inform our Bullying and harassment position statement (LINK) (PDF, 981KB). As we move forward, we will expect the organisations we fund to adopt ACAS good practice guidance (LINK)(or an equivalent framework) to prevent bullying and harassment.

In May 2020, we published our policy on Preventing harm (safeguarding) in research and innovation, (LINK)which includes our expectations of research organisations on addressing bullying and harassment. It also lists the actions we may take when incidents arise.

Our main activities

We continue to work collaboratively to develop measures that support an inclusive, respectful and safe culture.

Our priority areas include:

  • improving awareness of bullying and harassment in research and innovation, its impacts and how it can be prevented
  • addressing the barriers that prevent reporting and improving data collection to better understand and monitor the problem across the sector
  • working with other funders and regulators to coordinate policies and minimise administrative burdens [LINK TO FORUM WHEN THIS GOES LIVE]
  • developing resources and tools to support the evidence-based prevention and response strategies and training offerings such as bystander/upstander interventions

The report on research integrity highlights (LINK) the perceived impact of bullying and harassment on research integrity. Within UKRI, we will work with the new Research Integrity Committee (LINK) and across the organisation on developing the tools and processes that address the issues highlighted in the report.

By working with national and international partners through a new Funders’ Forum, we will join up policies and resources so that we can help increase culture change across the research and innovation sector.

Useful resources

  • Position statement (LINK)
  • Evidence review (LINK)
  • Research integrity landscape report (LINK)

Get in touch

For more information about our work on preventing bullying and harassment, email:

Last updated: 25 September 2020

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