Safeguarding for Research Projects

Safeguarding is the action taken to promote the welfare of children under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults and protect them from harm. Within research projects this may include staff, students and collaborators, as well as anyone directly affected by our research and teaching activities on campus, and at research and fieldwork sites in the UK or overseas e.g. research subjects, patients, etc.

 Our main funders, including UKRI and the Wellcome Trust, require the College to ensure that Safeguarding implications are properly considered and managed during the lifetime of the project. The UK Collaboration on Development Research (UKCDR) is working with research funders to “play a leadership role in setting a clear tone and high expectations around safeguarding in international development research, and to ensure harmonisation of safeguarding practices across the sector.”

 As part of project delivery and risk assessment planning, the research team should consider Imperial’s Child Protection and Adults at Risk Safeguarding Policy [pdf] and  Child Protection and Safeguarding Code of Practice [pdf] which outline both duty of care responsibilities and guidelines for those carrying out activities involving children and vulnerable adults.

 In addition, the College has a number of existing policies and procedures to support researchers in the identification and mitigation of Safeguarding concerns:

Research Guidance

Research Integrity

 As part of the project’s Safeguarding responsibilities, Imperial’s Research Integrity guidance will help you to assess the suitability of both the research environment and any formal or informal relationships with anyone involved in the project. Policy advice includes:

Working Overseas and Due Diligence


When planning projects overseas, the project leader should consider Imperial’s moral and legal duty of care within the context of local customs, laws and expectations. The Overseas working guidance [pdf] provides advice and support in undertaking the following Safeguarding-related assessments:

  •  On-site health and safety arrangements
  • Support of academic freedom in the country or region of operation
  • Awareness of cultural differences and expectations
  • Local immigration and employment requirements
  • Knowledge of local law
  • Understanding of  travel restrictions, sanctions and embargos in the region
  • Awareness of local taxation, pensions and insurance implications associated with the project
  • Locating local healthcare support
  • Purchasing regulations
  • Potential data protection issues
  • Determining exit strategies and evacuation procedure in the event of emergency

 Further advice is available from the  Overseas Research Toolkit which  provides guidance on assessing and managing financial, reputational, ethical , safeguarding and geo-political risks when working overseas.

Safeguarding Internationally (pdf)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Imperial College London is fully committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across its research sites and the following Safeguarding-related policies should be reflected in any project-plan:

Misconduct and Grievance Procedures

If things go wrong, anyone working on the project should be able to raise concerns with impunity through the established escalation routes outlined below:

As part of the contracting process, Principal Investigators are accountable for disseminating these policies to research partners and participants, ensuring their practical implementation, and monitoring research activities as part of their grant management and reporting responsibilities.

Further Information

For specific questions on Safeguarding in a research context, please contact Louise Lindsay, Director of Safeguarding and College Projects.

The Research Office website has further guidance for academics on Managing Projects and additional responsibilities when working overseas.