Governance and Risk Mitigation
Most of the College’s research can continue unhindered, but there are some important governance or policy compliance matters to consider before the research can commence, e.g. obtaining appropriate approvals and licences. These considerations are essential in ensuring that the Principal Investigator (PI), research project and the College are protected, and that all appropriate steps have been taken to allow the research to be conducted at the highest level of integrity and in line with relevant policies and legislation. Many of the College’s main funders, such as UKRI, also outline similar expectations.
The Worktribe Governance Checklist is designed to help the Principal Investigator and Head of Department (or their delegates) to identify and manage any matters which have the potential (real or perceived), to conflict with or contradict College Policies, Funder terms and conditions, and UK legislation. The information provided should also take account of the research activities undertaken by other College Co-Investigator(s) and external collaborators and their associated third-party relationships if applicable. Our research environment is increasingly complex and creates an increased range of risks, so the checklist acts as a valuable tool to help PIs and Departments identify, understand and manage any potential risks.
The questions on the Governance Checklist include the following key considerations:
- Due Diligence – are there any reputational, financial or ethical concerns about the funder and/or any collaborating third party which could cause damage to the College?
- Relationship Review – does the research involve any entities or countries which are subject to restrictions such as sanctions and embargoes?
- Conflicts of Interest – have any potential, real or perceived conflicts of interests been identified which could be detrimental to the College or individual College members?
- Ethics – is the research in an area which could compromise the College’s highest academic standards of integrity or is prohibited by law?
- UK Export Control – will the research involve the export of controlled or dual-use technologies which requires an approved export control licence to comply with UK legislation?
- Human Involvement – is ethical approval required to comply with UK regulations or College requirements?
- In Vivo or CBS – are licences required to comply with UK and European legislation?
- Research Data Management - is a data management plan in place to underpin the highest standards of academic research and good scientific practice?
A training version of the checklist is available and includes weblinks to relevant policies, supporting guidance, and provides examples and contact points for further enquiries.
The checklist is required to be completed prior to award acceptance/set up, however it is important that these considerations are undertaken by PIs at the earliest opportunity when preparing a proposal. Departments should support PIs in considering these questions while preparing the proposal because they act as an important guide to key requirements that allow activity to take place if an award is subsequently made. However, there is no need to complete the checklist until award acceptance stage in order to save time and effort where proposals are unsuccessful.
As part of the award acceptance process, the PI will be asked by Faculty Research Services to complete a “Research Award Acceptance - Governance Checklist” to assist with completion of the Governance and Risk Mitigation questions and before the Head of Department (or their delegate) approves acceptance of the award.
Once award acceptance approval is given by the Department, the award can be formally accepted by Faculty Research Services on behalf of Imperial College and set up on the finance system.
Where potential issues, risks or further questions are identified, these should be discussed, assessed and managed accordingly by the relevant parties. Department, Faculty or College escalation routes should be followed where necessary.