What is Trusted Research? Trusted Research aims to ensure that Royal Holloway’s world-leading research and innovation with international partners continues whilst ensuring that activities are conducted with integrity.
'Trusted Research' is a government backed campaign which outlines potential risks, provides advice to help make informed decisions and explains measures to help protect research and researchers from theft, misuse, or exploitation of their work.
Why should I care?
- Is it important that my research doesn’t fall into the wrong hands?
- Am I working with parties outside the UK higher education sector?
- Does my research involve strict contractual and legal obligations?
For most academics, Trusted Research is something we need to know about, but not necessarily be anxious about.
- But if our research is commercially or ethically sensitive, or could be used in ways we don’t intend, then this will matter.
- If we are working with parties from other countries or other sectors, who may have different priorities for our research, this will matter.
- If our research is subject to strict obligations to protect research data or control its movement or use, this will matter, particularly if it is in a ‘high risk’ sector such as quantum, AI, synthetic biology, cyber, etcetera.
UK Guidance - In the UK, the Centre for the National Protection of Infrastructure (CPNI) has published guidance to help researchers and academic institutions to get the most from working in collaboration with others as well as protecting their own work.
UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) has also provided guidance
Intent - Trusted Research enables researchers, universities and industry to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions regarding potential risks.
Application - Trusted Research is relevant to any research, but is particularly relevant in STEM, innovation, dual use technologies, emerging technologies and commercially sensitive research areas.
It is important to protect both yourself and College when your work may involve sensitive information, or a sensitive technology area, and is vulnerable to misuse or interference.
International collaboration provides hostile state actors the ability to access research whilst bypassing traditional espionage and cyber attacks. This global collaboration can permit those with dishonourable intentions access to individuals, networks and sensitive research.
Misuse of research can undermine international research collaboration in the UK, and result in reputational damage both to you personally and to College, as well as potential legal sanctions.
Interference in your research can also be a factor, be that influencing the direction of the work, limiting the ability to publish, or coercion that could negative affect both your reputation and that of the College.
All research can be at risk but joint and applied research can be particularly vulnerable.
Joint research can be corrupted by organisations and institutions based in nations whose interests, and ethical values are divergent from our own. Joint research can afford those individuals with hostile intent access to expertise, IT, research and networks.
Applied research is susceptible to misuse and interference particularly if the purpose is to solve definitive problems or create a commercial application. The potential for harm in applied research is great with consequences including loss of Intellectual Property and misuse of technology in either an unethical manner or a means which threatens national security.