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Research Operations Office


This guidance is for Principal Investigators who are preparing a funding application.

As part of your application, you'll need to consider each of the risks below and whether they apply to your project. If they do, you'll need to follow the guidance on managing the risk.

Worktribe users

If you're submitting your application through Worktribe you'll be asked to complete a risk assessment form. This confirms that you've read and understood these risks, and made steps to manage them.

You may also be asked to provide additional information about the risk.


Working with new funders or collaborators

A new funder means that the University of Cambridge hasn't worked with them before. You can tell is a funder is new if they're not listed on X5 or Worktribe.

What should I do about this risk?

You'll need to talk to your Department. They'll ask you some questions about the new funder or collaborator, and provide that information to our Due Diligence team.

The Due Diligence team will:

  • verify the source of the new organisation's funds
  • clarify the nature of their business, how they operate, and how they’re governed
  • make sure that there aren’t any negative news stories about them
  • make sure that we share the same values (we don’t work with tobacco funders, or funders whose actions conflict with our climate change commitments

Once they're satisfied, they'll give you approval to work with the new funder or collaborator.

Read more about the due diligence process.

Travelling outside of the UK for work

What should I do about this risk?

  • consider any safeguarding issues that may happen while you travel
  • make sure that you are following local customs and laws
Travelling to a high-risk country

High risk countries are countries that are unsafe to travel to, according to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

You can see a full list on the FCDO website and read guidance on the University’s Global Mobility and International Working Guidance website (login required).

What should I do about this risk?

Follow the latest government advice on travelling to one of these countries.

Conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest is when an individual's duties to the University conflict with their personal, financial, or other interests. Examples include receiving payments, gifts, or hospitality. 

What should I do about this risk?

You'll need to:

  • talk to your Department about the conflict of interest, and develop a plan for mitigating it
  • make sure that you follow the University’s conflict of interest policy
  • share details of the conflict with the funder, and any collaborators
International collaboration

International collaboration includes:

  • working on a project with non-UK organisations
  • delivering training to non-UK organisations
  • sharing data, materials, software, or technology outside the UK (this includes physically exporting materials, sending electronic transfers, and travelling overseas with controlled information on paper or in a laptop, USB stick or similar

What should I do about this risk?

If you're submitting your application through Worktribe, you'll need to answer the following questions in the Worktribe risk assessment:

  • is any party involved in the project is based in a country that has an arms embargo, trade sanctions or trade restrictions?
  • is any party involved in the project is on the US Consolidated Screening list?
  • will you be sharing or using any data, materials, software, technology, or goods that are subject to US export licence controls?
  • will you be sharing or using any data, materials, software, technology, or goods that are on the UK Export control list?
  • do you suspect that anything you share could be used for military or sanctioned activities or Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) end use?
  • are you going to need ethical approval from the country you’re conducting research in?
  • does your research fall into one of the UK government’s sensitive areas of the economy?
  • will you be exchanging human tissue or data internationally, or importing it from an international third party?
  • are you going to be importing genetic materials or using knowledge from a country that’s covered by the Nagoya Protocol?

You'll also need to:

  • make sure that your collaborators are treated equally
  • be transparent with how you work
  • share knowledge and resources
  • hire local people, if possible
  • respect local customs, laws and regulations
  • ensure fair access to funding
Ensuring gender equality

What should I do about this risk?

If you're applying for funding from UKRI, NIHR Global Health Research, Global Challenges Research Fund, or the Newton Fund then you'll need to include a gender equality statement with your application.

This needs to show that you've thought about how the project could reduce gender inequality in its design, implementation and impact.

The statement should answer the following questions:

  • have measures been put in place to ensure equal and meaningful opportunities for people of different genders to be involved throughout the project? This includes the development of the project, the participants of the research and the beneficiaries of the research.
  • what is the expected impact of the project (benefits and losses) on people of different genders, both throughout the project and beyond?
  • what are the impact on the relations between people of different genders and people of the same gender. For example, changing roles and responsibilities in households, society, economy, politics, power, etc?
  • how will any risks and unintended negative consequences on gender equality be avoided or mitigated against, and monitored?
  • are there any relevant outcomes and outputs being measured, with data disaggregated by age and gender (where disclosed)?
Working with human participants, or human tissue

What should I do about this risk?

Research involving the use of non-human IN VIVO procedures or animal facilities (including animal-related work at other organisations in the UK or overseas)

What should I do about this risk?

Harm and safeguarding

What should I do about this risk?

You should read the University’s safeguarding policies, risk assessments and escalation processes:

If you're applying for funding through UKRI then you'll need to comply with the UKRI Preventing Harm Safeguarding in Research and Innovation policy

If you're applying for funding through NIHR Coordinating Centres then you'll need to comply with the NIHR Coordinating Centres safeguarding guidance.

Research contracts

For reputation, financial and intellectual property risks relating to non-standard research sponsors, your School Contract Manager in the Research Operations Office negotiating the contract on behalf of the university will be able to advise on potential risks.

See information about Research Contracts.