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.  

None

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

Research integrity and governance

Imperial is committed to undertaking research of the highest international quality. It is the responsibility of every staff member and student to uphold the good reputation of the College and, consequently, it is expected that they will conduct research with integrity. The primary way to encourage appropriate conduct is to promote and maintain a culture of honesty, openness and responsibility.

Further information on research integrity and governance, and best practice guidance, can be found in the following pages:

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

UK export controls may apply to the transfer or disclosure (by any means) of certain goods, software or technology (know-how or other information) from the UK to a destination outside the UK. Such considerations apply to certain research and teaching activities, principally within Engineering and Natural Sciences disciplines. Export controls can apply to items sent or taken out of the UK and to transfers and disclosures by facsimile, e-mail, or other electronic means, as well as telephone or in-person conversations. Under exceptional circumstances, to transfers or disclosures made within the UK may be within scope, where it is known or suspected that the ultimate end use is connected to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) related activities outside the UK. 

The applicability of export controls and related security concerns should be considered as early as possible when contemplating a proposed research or teaching activity. If an activity falls within the scope of export controls, a licence may be required before any transfer or disclosure can be made. College staff are responsible for assessing their planned activities in the light of published guidance and can contact the Research Office for support and advice in determining export control requirements for research. Export controls and any licences required are administered by the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) within the Department for International Trade (DIT) on behalf of HM Government.  

It should be noted that failure to properly assess and comply with export control requirements can result in delay, suspension or termination of activities, projects, and other transactions, including loss of associated posts, research awards and funding. Furthermore, exporting controlled items without the required export licence(s) is a criminal offence that may result in fines and even imprisonment. These consequences can damage and disrupt the reputation and work of the individuals involved and the College itself. Please consult the guidance on the College Export Controls website and you can also contact the Research Office for advice and support in navigating potential export control requirements for your activities. 

All College staff, particularly academics and researchers, should carefully consider:

  1. Whether they will need to make exports (transfers or disclosures to recipients outside the UK) as part of their activities; and 
  2. Whether the items (materials or information) that may or will be exported as part of their activities may be sensitive and subject to export controls; and 
  3. Whether there are any material concerns about the recipients of those items, including observance of sanctions and embargoes applicable to any individuals, entities or locations (see HM Government information on current sanctions, embargoes and related restrictions). 

Further information, including how to establish when an export licence may be required and how to apply for one can be found on the College’s Export Controls web pages. 

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.

Crowdfunding

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: b.hughes@imperial.ac.uk.

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