Internal, open access

Research Agreement

University Context

Every piece of research which the University carries out on behalf of, or with an outside body is potentially already subject to contract, whether anything is written or not.  Written contract documents provide evidence of what has been agreed, and become vitally important in preventing confusion and possible dispute in the work that we do for and with other bodies.

The University will not normally agree to be bound by any contract unless it is fixed in writing and authorised by a University Officer or their delegates.

The University reserves the right not to accept contracts 'agreed' by its academic or administrative staff without prior authorisation, and staff may find themselves personally liable under contract if the University is not able to retrospectively validate such contract terms.

The Research & Enterprise Contracts Team in Research & Enterprise check, approve and sign all legal documents for Research & Enterprise by delegation from the Director, Finance & Corporate Services.

The contracts team vouch that activity meets our charitable purposes, ethical, academic and other policies and that the financial and legal risks to all involved can be effectively managed.


Contents of Research Agreements

A Research Agreement confirms a number of things which create and document a relationship which is in the joint best interests of the University, Academic(s), Student(s), Faculty & School – and which delivers sponsor expectations. These issues include (among others):

  • Who the contract is with
  • What the programme of work and timetable is
  • How the work and relationship will be managed and disputes resolved
  • What the outputs are expected to be
  • Who owns the outputs and how may they be used
  • What resources and consumables are required
  • Publication rights
  • Rights to conduct further research & teaching
  • Involvement of any non-university resources or people
  • Payment terms

Any one of these issues if not negotiated correctly can have critical unintended effects on future research & academic work. There can be immediate distortion of the impact of your research generally and for academic career development and publication records. There are also basic issues covered here such as making sure you can recruit new staff on time (and pay them once they are here) and properly resource the project to deliver the work as you want to.

The University has a range of examples of contract terms for our research and related activities, and these can be discussed with your school Contracts Manager Contact Enterprise Services.


Using the Contracts Team

We encourage early discussion of your potential contract needs as it helps us anticipate better the work we will need to do for each project, and allows us to line up all the other factors (e.g. finance, budgets, sub-contracts or grant sharing arrangements) that have to fall into place once we sign of with a sponsor. A little bit of notice reaps dividends in the setting up of your project.

In any event you should leave sufficient time for the Research & Enterprise Contracts Team to review a contract before any deadline for signature. Until we see a contract we cannot anticipate what problems there may be – the later you leave discussion with us, the more likely it becomes that we may not be able to approve your document in the time frame or in the format you want.

The Research & Enterprise Contracts Team also review and authorise agreements provided by external sponsors or funders.  Often funding bodies will insist that their own terms and conditions are used, and here in R&E we are flexible and experienced enough to deal with those contract requirements once referred to us.

Things to do now

Page navigation


Search Form

A-Z lists