Publications and academic freedom

Freedom to publish and academic freedom is of crucial importance to all UK universities and academic staff, and is woven into the legal status of institutions.  Protecting your work before publishing is important: this may be via copyright, by publishing ‘first’, or through other protective filings such as a patent where the results of the work may be sensitive or have commercial application. Industry partnerships and commercialisation can advise further on this.

In some cases, what you are seeking to publish may result in an ‘export’ taking place"

In some cases, you should consider whether there are national security implications to the research and whether Section 22 of the Patents Act 2004 might be applicable. The Patent Office will assess whether there are any national security applications which may require an application under Section 22, examples are below, although some details are not made public.

You should always consider what you publish and how this may be utilised, in particular by any hostile state.  In some cases, what you are seeking to publish may result in an ‘export’ taking place, and careful consideration should be given to the Dual-use items aspects of the information of technology you might be releasing, and therefore may be subject to control under law.

Countries and conferences

Image from a laboratory for illustration

Overseas conferences are a normal part of academic life, and part of the academic freedoms enjoyed in the UK.  Whilst some focus will be on presentations to be given or networking to be done, careful consideration should also be given to security issues associated with travelling to a different country, which may include what you should and should not discuss, disclose or speak about if you are invited to speak.  Considerations should include:

  • Consider the country that you are travelling to, and be aware of local laws and customs
  • Think carefully about what information you share or present
  • Make sure you understand your host’s attitude to academic freedom and discussion
  • Ensure that any payments you accept for attendance do not create a conflict of interest, or place you in breach of College policies
  • Be clear on the areas of research that you can, and cannot, talk about
  • Be polite but firm if pressed to share more information
  • Report any suspicions you may have to your HoD, for example unusual invitations to speak at a conference.

College has general guidance on Planning a trip, and College Export Controls pages provide information on what might be considered an export, should you be delivering a talk or speech at a conference.

See the FCO website for more detailed travel advice, including how to seek consular assistance the country you (or your staff) visit.

The CPNI countries and conferences guide [pdf] provides detailed guidance on travel, conference attendance and working abroad. This document is external to the College and may not be in an accessible format.