Imperial is committed to undertaking research of the highest quality and nurtures an environment that is defined by a culture of integrity, good governance and best practice. All research activity should support the Colleges mission and strategic aims and be consistent with the Colleges objectives.

Imperial Research Codes of Practice may mean that your planned activity is restricted by Imperial standards or prohibited by the law.  


Ethical considerations

The College has an overall Ethics code which sets out key behaviours which the College expects of all its members in order to facilitate a leading academic community which demonstrates integrity in all its activities, and which manages relationships with third parties such as research funders and collaborators appropriately. This code is accompanied by a Relationship Review Policy, which highlights the mechanisms through which staff and other members of the College community should consider whether there are any ethical concerns in connection with proposed and continuing relationships with third parties including research funders and collaborators. Consideration should be given to ensure that such relationships do not:

  • Compromise the College’s status as an independent institution
  • Create material conflicts of interest
  • Arise, in whole or in part, from illegal activity that might include tax evasion, bribery or fraud etc.
  • Lead the College to contravene data protection and/or freedom of information legislation
  • Require the College to be involved in action that is illegal
  • Require the College to supress or falsify academic research
  • Require the College to deviate from its normal hiring, promotion, procurement and contracting procedures
  • Require the College to provide special consideration for its programmes of study

Judgement is required to ensure that the College’s interests are maintained when reviewing a relationship if it has the potential to:

  • Restrict academic freedom
  • Deter others from supporting or working with the College
  • Cause any other damage, including financial or reputational, to the College
  • Expose the College to potentially significant liability

Classified research and classified materials

Research and/or consultancy, both in the UK and Overseas, that is subject to a security classification above Official Sensitive is not permitted to be undertaken by College staff on any College campus. No materials, documents, nor information in any form, which are subject to a security classification above Official Sensitive, or equivalent classifications from overseas Governments, shall be generated or stored on any College campus.

Further information can be found in the Classified Research and Classified Materials policy statement.

Tobacco industry funding

The College does not accept or solicit any funding from tobacco companies, whether related to research or teaching. 

College is committed to working in harmony with the Universities UK Protocol Regarding Tobacco Industry Funding [pdf], which states “UK universities would not wish to engage in activities that compromise the independence or integrity of their work or which lent support to an industry whose products caused serious damage to health”.  Several of our key research funders maintain similar policies with which we must also comply, such as Cancer Research UK’sWellcome Trust’s and BHFs.  Those funders will not fund researchers who have or apply for funding from the tobacco industry and take very seriously any institutional associations a university may have with the tobacco industry.

Export controls and sanctions

Export Controls apply to the physical removal of goods or the transfer (by any means) of goods, technology or software and/or knowledge (which may capture teaching) from the UK to a destination outside the UK. However the Controls can apply to transfers by facsimile, e-mail and also telephone and, under exceptional circumstances, to transfers within the UK where it is known that the ultimate end use is for weapon of mass destruction (WMD) related matters outside the UK.

Export Controls should be considered as early as possible when considering undertaking a research activity. If an export falls within the Controls, a licence will be required before any transfer can be made. Export Controls and any licences required are administered by the Export Control Organisation (ECO). It should be noted that failure to obtain an appropriate licence to export controlled goods may result in a criminal offence being committed.

Academics and Researchers should consider the technology being exported and whether there are any concerns about the recipient of that technology, including current sanctions which must be complied with (see Current sanctions embargoes and restrictions).

Further information, including when a licence is required and how to apply can be found on the Colleges Export Controls pages.


Whilst we actively encourage and support staff finding new and novel sources of funding, it has been acknowledged through Provost’s Board that College does not support staff using, nor administer, third party crowdfunding platforms and websites in order to generate income for College research activities.

Three key issues present some concern to College.  First, a lack of peer review of proposals and campaigns on crowdfunding platforms, secondly the inherent difficulties in establishing the provenance of funding pledged to crowdfunding campaigns, and finally the potential for misuse of the College name and brand.

It is acknowledged that some students may wish to utilise crowdfunding as a means to raise money for specific innovation projects or entrepreneurial activities.  Whilst College does not wish to prevent its students from pursuing funding by these means, it should be noted that in order to protect College's brand, students are not permitted to use the College's name or branding in any campaign they may launch, nor utilise College resources for such purposes.

Should you have any questions please contact the Research Office via Ben Hughes:

Research collaboration has huge benefits but there are also some potential risks. Those working in academic research need to understand these risks and how to protect their research and staff. Further information can be found in the Trusted research - protecting your work pages.

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