Trusted Research

Image of the cloisters

The University of Glasgow is operating in an increasingly global capacity in respect of our international research collaborations and our interactions with global research funders and other organisations. The University encourages and values international engagement in all its forms and our international profile, partnerships and relationships are crucial to our ability to carry out research that transforms lives and changes the world. As a world-leading institution engaged in research and knowledge exchange with partners across the globe, we must, however, be alert to the possibility of our research and outputs being misused when exported. It is therefore essential that we comply with all relevant national and international legislation and requirements relating to export control insofar as these relate to the activities of the University and its people (staff, students, visiting academics and contractors).

“Trusted Research aims to secure the integrity of the system of international research collaboration  which is vital to the continued success of the UK’s research and innovation sector” (CPNI). The aim is to protect the UK from hostile states/actors whose democratic and ethical values are different and whose strategic intent is hostile to the UK. 

The Trusted Research agenda is particularly relevant to researchers in STEM subjects, dual-use technologies, emerging technologies and commercially sensitive research areas, but everyone involved in research should be aware of these issues. Researchers are ultimately responsibility for compliance with the legal frameworks in the UK. These web pages refer specifically to strategic Export Control legislation and the National Securities and Investment Act (NSI) which fall under the Trusted Research remit. GDPR and Cybersecurity are other areas of concern. 

Find out more about the Trusted Research agenda on the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) website. We acknowledge CPNI’s Trusted Research Guidance for Academia in developing our processes. 

Action Required

Responsibility for national security due diligence begins and rests ultimately with the researchers involved. Failure to comply with Strategic Export Control legislation or regulations under the NSI Act, or providing false or misleading information is may constitute a criminal offence. Researchers need to consider potential security risks associated with their research and collaborations.  

To protect researchers, the University, and to minimise risk researchers should:  

  • Undertake due diligence on new international research and/or funding collaborations 
  • Be aware of potential conflict of interests 
  • Demonstrate transparency about new research commitments to partners Consider digital segregation when necessary e.g. IT/data access - think about what happens to access once projects/visits are over 
  • Consider Academic Technology Approval Scheme ( ATAS )  and visa issues and obtain appropriate clearances (staff / students)

Researchers should check the export control lists and the NSI sector lists. Tools such as the Goods Checker Tool are available to help establish if specific items are controlled (for export). If the research falls under one of these sectors or the control list then it is more likely that there will be national security considerations. If the work does not fall into one of these categories it does not mean that there are no national security issues. Researchers must also carry out due diligence in relation to their collaborators / partners / funder. Remember – collaborator/ partner /funder risk overrides subject risk (i.e. if there are security concerns about a collaborator / partner / funder, then the subject matter of the research is largely irrelevant). 

Once due diligence is complete, researchers should report the findings to the Research Governance and Integrity team 

The Research Governance and Integrity Team

The central Research Governance and Integrity team is based in Research Services. We can help researchers assess any proposed activities and communicate any issues researchers should be aware and considerate of. 

Note: There may be other emerging issues that the  Research Governance and Integrity team needs to check. Legislation, case law and guidance is always evolving as is our understanding, and therefore our guidance and approaches may change.  

If a licence application or an NSI notification is required, the Research Governance and Integrity team will request further information. We escalate issues to the Trusted Research Advisory Panel and provide them with supporting information to make a decision on the appropriate action required. 

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Trusted Research Advisory Group

The University of Glasgow has established a Trusted Research Advisory Group to make university-level decisions on our approach to the Trusted Research agenda, and where necessary cases relating to export controls and the National Securities and Investment Act. This panel provides an established escalation route, and it will consider financial, legal and reputational risks to both the University and the individual researcher(s) in making decisions. View the Terms of Reference (PDF).