Be aware of the risks when collaborating with any partner, particularly those unfamiliar. Pose questions of why they are looking to work with you, their motivations, and how your work with them may be used.  The following checklists will help you consider relevant points and where to seek support as necessary.

Click on the tabs below to review each Trusted Research checklist and use it to help assess what risks might be present in your work and how you can manage them.

You can also download an editable copy to keep record of your considerations for your projects. 

An image from a lab for illustration only

Checklist 1

About New Partners

About New PartnersConsiderations 
1. Why does a partner want to work with you?

Consider factors such as:

- the types of information, knowledge, technology, or people the partner might gain access to and how they might intend to make use of this access.

- if the collaboration would involve any sensitive information that may be taken and applied in a way that could compromise the integrity of your work, reputation, or the College’s.

2. What are they expecting in return for their financial support or involvement?

Consider the risk of the research or funding partner seeking:

- control over the direction of the intended research activities, or future ones. 

- ownership and control over storage and processing of resulting data/IP.

3. Is the organisation associated with a country which may be viewed as hostile to the UK or one which has different democratic and ethical values from our own?

Consider the political status and legal frameworks that the potential research or funding partner will have to work within as a result of the country they are registered in, or where their parent organization may be headquartered.

Do these raise any ethical or security concerns, in particular any concerns around your academic freedom or potential for damage to you reputation?

4. Has due diligence into the partner identified any involvement in research on behalf of the military or police with links to a hostile state? The College’s ‘managing risk’ guidance and relationship review policy can help you conduct due diligence on the partner.
5. Are there any legal, regulatory or College policy constraints on undertaking your research with this partner?

Consult the legislation page of this Trusted Research guidance. Also consider whether ATAS approval might be necessary for your research programme. Relevant College policies can be found in the pages linked on the Trusted Research further information page.

Having considered the answers to the above questions, are there potential risks that you have identified, to you or to the College? If anything has been identified, please seek advice from the appropriate contact route listed on the further information page.

About the Research Relationships

About the Research RelationshipsConsiderations
1. Have you been asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the relationship? Before committing to anything, speak with your Faculty Research Services Team for advice.

2. Are you providing existing intellectual property (IP), research data, confidential or personally identifiable data to the project? If so, how is this going to be protected?


- Formal written agreements may be be necessary before providing any such information. Speak with your Research Services Contracts Team for advice.

- Also consider whether there are any legal implications in sharing these such as Data Protection, Export Control or NSI Act.

- The College IP Policy outlines who certain IP generally belongs to depending on the scenario. However, your Research Services Contracts Team or the College Enterprise Team can give you tailored advice on this. The commercialisation process is managed within Imperial's Enterprise division.

3. Who will own any IP that is generated?
4. Do you have plans in place for protecting the resulting IP?
5. Consider what rights or interests in the activity you wish to protect, eg. publication rights, right of access to results etc, and seek advice on the appropriate way to make this happen. Seek advice from your Faculty Research Services Team. Read about types of research contracts to learn more about ways to protect the interests of the College.
6. Consider what access your research partner(s) need or should have to your results and data – is this stored on the College network? What level of access should be provided?  Are there other means to provide secure access?

It is important that any access is proportionate and appropriate. Read the ‘Segregation’ section at the end of the Trusted Research homepage to help consider access what restrictions may be needed. Speak with ICT about ensuring secure access to data and appropriate encryption protocols. 

Consider appropriate segregation of work, and management of access to ensure no overlaps take place and access is provided only where necessary, appropriate or in accordance with relevant contracts. 

7. Are you or colleagues carrying out similar work with other partners or funders?  Is there sufficient physical separation or protection between these areas of work?

Having considered the answers to the above questions, are there potential risks that you have identified, to you or to the College? If anything has been identified, please seek advice from the appropriate contact route listed on the further information page.

About Your Project

About Your Project

1. Set within the context of any information gained from due diligence, could your research be misused or have unintended applications which would be negative?

Read about dual-use items and end-use concerns to help you think about potential misuse or unintended applications of your research. Consider whether your research can be applied in a way that may cause harm directly or indirectly to people or populations.

2. Is any of the research likely to be subject to UK or other countries’ export licence controls? Read the Export Controls guidance and contact the Research Office if you require tailored advice.
3. Is there any sensitive data or personally identifiable information that should be protected? 

This may include genetic or medical information, population datasets, details of individuals or commercial test data

4. Are there any potential ethical or moral concerns for the application of the research?

Think about the application of the research or potential application.

Could the research be used to support activities in other countries with ethical standards different from our own, such as internal surveillance and repression?

5. Is the research likely to produce commercial or patentable results?

The Enterprise department at the College provides advice and support on intellectual property rights and commercialisation of eligible research output. Read the following webpages or further insight into these aspects:

6. Are your ideas worth stealing?

Your ideas could be valuable to specific kinds of people. Consider the consequences of what would happen if your research fell into the wrong hands. If your research could make you a target, think about the appropriate steps you need to take to protect your research including data security.

7. How is your research being used?

Research may be applied in different ways that weren't intended. Think how research results could be used and consider how to prevent partners or other people with access to research, from doing this inappropriately.


About You

About YouConsiderations
1. Are you being targeted?

Try to stay aware of the current cyber security threats to UK universities and academia. Your personal data and intellectual property may be under threat from cyber criminals.

2. Is your research attracting the wrong people?

It is the responsibility of each researcher to check who’s getting involved in their work, what levels of access they are seeking and what they may see. Look into the background of research partners. If the wrong people were to have access to your work, what might they be able to do with it?

3. Could your work end up in the wrong hands? 

Make sure all elements of work are kept secure. Make sure that you are up to date on the latest regulations and are storing data, personal information and other parts of your research securely.

4. How much is your
reputation worth?

Security breaches, inappropriate or unethical use of research or unusual funding sources can all impact on the reputation of an individual researcher and the College.

Securing your research does not end at cyber security; think beyond and think about the who, why, and what.