Trusted Research – some reflections

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I recently attended a National Protective Security Authority (NPSA) meeting in Birmingham on Trusted Research for STEM Universities and wanted to share with you my learnings, and help raise awareness of the issues.

Over the last few years, we have seen a number of geopolitically destabilising events. These have been set against a world in which emerging technologies are developing rapidly, with universities like ours at the forefront of this development. We must remain cognisant that while there are enormous potential positive impacts to these technologies, there are also fundamental risks including in relation to security, democracy, and academic freedom. The risks of ‘undue influence’ on our research, and the related but broader considerations that apply to international collaboration (‘trusted research’), are two areas that warrant particular focus.

Research is not conducted in a political or social vacuum, and therefore we must negotiate changing risks alongside other sectors.

At the meeting it was particularly interesting to hear about the new “Pride and Joy” campaign that the NPSA are running which focuses on helping you to consider how to protect your research and think about any security implications that you may need to be aware of early in the process so that you are operating in a safe environment.

In this blog I have invited Dale Topley, Trusted Research Manager, to highlight some recent developments in these areas, alongside a glimpse into university activity intended to support researchers to address these risks.

Regards, Sarah


Trusted Research

In January 2024, the NPSA released a suite of new resources for universities. These materials are designed to support and enable international research collaboration. Their aim is to help keep sensitive research and intellectual property secure from theft, misuse or exploitation.

It is clear that Trusted Research concerns remain highly relevant for researchers, funders, regulators and users of our research. It is something that we must all continue to engage with.

You may find the resources below particularly relevant to your work as an academic


Routed in our Principles for Establishing International Research Collaborations we will continue to champion the importance of international partnerships, while ensuring that the ethical, reputational, and legal risks are identified and managed.

Given the importance of international research to us at the University of Bath, we will continue to  support and provide training to all researchers (staff and students) on Trusted Research related topics. Please expect further communications, new training sessions, and new engagement opportunities.

One example of this support can be seen in how we were pleased to run an educational intervention to help researchers understand the risk that external parties (such as corporations) can exert undue influence on researchers. In order to raise awareness of the risks associated with financial conflicts of interest and commercial sponsorship of research, the Tobacco Control Research Group and the Research Governance & Compliance team have designed an educational intervention that was piloted on 20th September 2023.

The workshop was attended by 23 participants (PhD students and staff). It involved presenting the currently available evidence on both the problem, its potential solutions and an overview of the relevant support available at the University of Bath. The training also included an interactive session where participants worked on a case study.

The workshop was developed within the context of a research project that seeks to evaluate its impact via pre and post surveys. The analysis is still ongoing but the preliminary findings show that the training was generally well received. For example, 18 participants stated that the problems around conflict of interest presented in the training increased their interest in the course topic. The Tobacco Control Research Group and the Research Governance & Compliance team are currently discussing the next steps including applying for funding to refine the training and roll it out to other UK Universities.


Want to know more?

Should you have any questions about anything related to Trusted Research, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Dale Topley (Trusted Research Manager) via

For support on all matters relating to Export Controls, please contact

For support for due diligence relating to prospective research collaborators on staff funded projects, please contact RIS via

Support on cyber security related matters is provided by the Digital, Data and Technology Group (DDaT), you can contact the IT Security team via

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