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Safeguarding for Research Projects


Safeguarding is the action taken to promote the welfare of children under the age of 18 and vulnerable adults and protect them from harm.


Safeguarding – the responsibility to anticipate, mitigate and address harm – remains an essential function for all those involved in the international development research chain, whatever the focus of their research.


The UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) define safeguarding in the research context as preventing and addressing “any sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment of research participants, communities and research staff, plus any broader forms of violence, exploitation and abuse… such as bullying, psychological abuse and physical violence.”


What needs to be considered in research project development and management:
Many research project activities (research involving children or vulnerable groups) and funding streams (GCRF, ODA) will require duty of care and adherence with University and Funder policies.


Within research projects this may include staff, students and collaborators, as well as anyone directly affected by our research and teaching activities on campus, and at research and fieldwork sites in the UK or overseas e.g. research subjects, patients, etc.


Specific Funder requirements:


Researchers should familiarise themselves with the University policies below.


Relevant policies and procedures:
Through the University Court, and audited in the annual accounts, the University has a governance framework established by Court’s statement of primary responsibilities and schedule of delegated authority through which are established the various committees and mechanisms to oversee and provide assurance through reporting to Court that the Institution’s policies and actions are: ethical and sustainable, taking into consideration their impact on the environment, on the wellbeing of its students and workforce, including health and safety issues and fair working practices, and on other communities, whether local or more distant.


As charities, Scottish HEIs are obliged to notify the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) about any notifiable event related to ‘Keeping vulnerable beneficiaries, volunteers and staff safe’ .We have internal processes to deal with the type of events covered and very serious matters (in the context of the size and nature of our organisation, per OSCR guidance) would be referred to Court for consideration as to whether OSCR notification was warranted. This responsibility of Court members as charity trustees is contained in the Court Handbook.

​Researchers should consult the Edinburgh Napier University Safeguarding Research Framework 2022​ which outlines the policy and support framework for research and innovation activities through which the commitment of the University and its obligation to protect children and adults who are at risk of harm, abuse, neglect, exploitation, or discrimination is set out.


Researchers should consult the University Protecting Vulnerable Groups Policy which outlines both duty of care responsibilities and guidelines for those carrying out activities involving children and vulnerable adults.


Preventing and reporting bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation are detailed in the Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure. This applies to all employees, including casual, agency and associate workers. It also includes all visitors to the University and other third parties who are visiting or working on behalf of the University. It is not limited to ordinary working hours or University campuses and extends to all functions and places that are work related. This covers all collaborators working on University Research & Innovation projects.


The University has a Whistleblowing procedure for staff. This is detailed in the Public Interest Disclosure document. The University also has a complaints procedure for anyone with an issue related to the services the University provides.


Where there is an allegation of Staff misconduct (including research related misconduct) Disciplinary Policy and Procedure details how to make a complaint and the resulting process.


The Research Integrity Code of Practice defines the research principles and practices to which all students and staff at the University must adhere. This includes the ethics considerations in research and the process for reporting research misconduct. The Code should be read by all University staff and registered students who are conducting, or planning to conduct, research of any type which must be appropriately governed. Ethical issues also come into play wherever research involves human participants, personal data and human tissue. The Code also applies to any research partners who may be conducting research on Edinburgh Napier University premises.


Additional safeguarding:
It is profoundly unethical for people to be approached to take part in research (however potentially valuable) if their own basic healthcare needs are not being addressed. While researchers cannot themselves be directly responsible for meeting such needs, they must be confident that they know how to refer on to those who are (and that those services are in place). This is extremely important in global health crises.


Due diligence processes must be conducted for all partners on ODA funding. Due diligence on partners should be followed on other projects which are in scope of the above. The checks will be completed by the Research, Innovation and Enterprise staff, but require the involvement of the researcher(s) to provide the relevant details about the partner Organisations and the project scope.