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Preventing Harm in Research


The University is committed to providing a safe environment for researchers and to protecting research participants and takes its responsibilities in this area seriously.

The purpose of these guidelines is to prevent exploitation, abuse or harm from occurring to any University employees engaged in research and to any participants of research conducted by or on behalf of the University and to provide clear reporting and escalation routes for any concerns raised. This approach to preventing harm in research is informed by funder requirements.

Definitions and Scope

One way the University prevents harm is through its approach to Safeguarding. Safeguarding is defined as taking all reasonable means to prevent harm from occurring; to protect people, especially vulnerable adults and children, from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur.

The scope of the University’s safeguarding activity in the research environment covers any sexual misconduct, violence or abuse of research participants, communities and research staff, plus any broader forms of violence and abuse relevant to research.


These guidelines interact closely with the University’s existing Safeguarding Policy Safeguarding Policy ( providing a wider scope to encompass research and innovation activities.

These guidelines may overlap with other University policies, including:


Any risks of harm to researchers and / or research participants and safeguarding implications must be properly considered and managed during the lifetime of any research project. All staff and students delivering and supporting research should be aware of how they can protect themselves, their research team and research participants.

Any risks to researchers or research participants should be identified through the University’s risk assessment process (with particular reference to international travel and lone working guidance), and the University’s research ethics process.

All researchers working with human participants, their data or tissue must undertake Research Integrity training and gain ethical review for their research projects. All researchers undertaking work with vulnerable groups (children and vulnerable adults) should be aware of the University's safeguarding policy and their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding.

Institutional Responsibilities

In line with the University’s Safeguarding Policy:

  • Heads of Department have responsibility for managing and mitigating risks in research, including safeguarding implications.
  • Principal Investigators have day to day responsibility for managing and mitigating risks on research projects, including the risks of potential harm, which involves ensuring that a risk assessment and mitigation plan is in place.
  • Health & Safety have responsibility for advising on risk assessment and mitigation plans for research projects.
  • R&IS have responsibility for advising on funder requirements, ethical considerations, protecting research participants and for signposting to appropriate training and guidance.

Partner Responsibilities

Collaborators or partners working with or for the University should uphold the same standards regarding preventing harm in research and this should be checked through a due diligence process.

Reporting Safeguarding Concerns

The Director of Wellbeing and Safeguarding is the University Designated Person for Safeguarding and will address any safeguarding concerns raised in the first instance. Contact:

Further Information and Resources

Preventing Harm in Research training video: opens in a new window

UKRI Preventing Harm in Research: opens in a new window

NIHR Preventing Harm in Research: opens in a new window.

UK Collaboration on Development Research (UKCDR) guidelines around safeguarding in international development research: opens in a new window