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Conducting Research Overseas

How to safeguard your research, enable and facilitate collaborations with international partners.

International collaboration is vital to the success of the University research strategy. Engaging with partners based overseas, and supporting research designed to address international imperatives such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, are fundamental aspects to the University’s core mission. Global engagement serves to strengthen our culture of research integrity, and enables our researchers to deliver to their full potential.

To facilitate and safeguard international collaboration the university’s high ethical standards must be maintained when working with partners and/or research participants based outside of the UK. In addition to complying with the University of Bath’s research ethics policies and guidelines, research should adhere to all applicable local legal, ethical, and cultural requirements.

Local Ethical Review

Researchers should seek local ethical review for activities conducted outside of the UK. This can often be a value-adding process as it is an opportunity to take on board local insight and expertise. Projects with external approval will be considered via the Ethics@Bath digital system. Where a sufficiently thorough ethical review has been conducted by an overseas organisation, it will often not be necessary to undergo a further full ethics review.

Additional information can often be sourced online, such as from the Office for Human Research Protections.

It is not always clear where to seek local ethical review from. While this is straightforward when collaborating with an academic partner based at a university (the university REC), it can be less clear when collaborating with industrial or commercial partners, or with NGOs and charities. Seeking the advice of an expert in situ is often the best approach.

Compliance with Regulations (UK and Overseas)

When conducting research activities outside of the UK, researchers should be aware of all applicable local laws and regulations. This will include, for example, national data protection laws which will apply when collecting or processing personally identifiable information outside of the UK.

Standard requirements will vary according to location, it is the researcher’s responsibility to investigate what the requirements for their individual projects are. Additional information concerning international data protection laws can be found on the DLA Piper – Data Protection Laws of the World resource.

Researchers collaborating internationally should also be aware of applicable UK laws including UK Data Protection Laws, UK Export Control Laws, and the National Security and Investment Act. Further advice and details for who to contact for support can be accessed on the Trusted Research webpage.

Researcher Safety

All research involving travel overseas should be conducted in accordance with the University’s procedures for international travel. Staff and student safety is of paramount importance when planning and conducting research. All travel should be appropriately risk assessed, and key sources of guidance including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Travel Advice should be consulted.

Researchers should also keep in mind considerations relating to Trusted Research, including those relating to the protection of intellectual assets.

Further information to note

Find out more about research ethics and research integrity

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