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Starting a Project

Finance

At the start of any project, you should meet with one of the Department’s Finance Team who can advise on reporting financial expenditure and any specific conditions related to your project, for example relating to travel or equipment purchases.

Collaboration agreements

Collaboration agreements are often demanded by sponsors, particularly if several organisations are involved and need to share money, resources or sensitive data. They are necessary to ensure that the researchers’ interests are protected, for example to allow publishing results. The Research Operations Office is responsible for putting agreements in place, and should be involved as early as possible so they can understand the issues involved. While the Knowledge Transfer Facilitators can advise on general approaches, these agreements should be tailored to the specific needs of the project, so working directly with the ROO is strongly recommended.

Project management and governance

For all but the simplest collaborative projects, some kind of project reporting and supervision will be required by the sponsors. It is important to get the right approach; industrial sponsors may demand that universities use structures and methodologies that are not appropriate to academic research, but are in fact satisfied with a lighter touch if it is explained fully. The Research Operations Office and the Knowledge Transfer Facilitators can advise on suitable approaches.

Good practice with sensitive information

There is often a conflict between researchers’ desire to publish and collaborate across research groups, departments and universities, and industrial sponsors desire to protect their commercial interests.  Many sponsors understand the benefits of working with academia and are supportive of the need to publish. However there might be reasonable steps that could be taken to address their concerns, for example:

  1. Keeping electronic or paper lab books up to date
  2. Making sure any confidential data you receive or produce is clearly marked as such, and destroyed or returned when the project finishes.
  3. Consider doing any particularly sensitive work at the sponsor’s site.
  4. If the sponsor’s specific application is sensitive, for example has a military application, can the research focus on a less sensitive scenario?

The Director of Research and Finance and the Knowledge Transfer Facilitators are available to advise on good practice. Please let them know when you start a project, particularly if there are any specific requirements to disseminate the results beyond academia.

 

Suggestions to improve this page should be sent to Chris Pearson () in the first instance.