Researchers must declare if they have been disciplined for bullying or sexual harassment under new funding rules

Researchers must declare if they have been disciplined for bullying or sexual harassment under new funding rules

Under the new policy, colleges and universities hosting IRC awardees must deal swiftly and appropriately with allegations or incidents of bullying, harassment, or sexual harassment. File picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Researchers applying for funding will now have to declare they have not been sanctioned for bullying or sexual harassment under a new policy aimed at tackling harassment in the sector.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) has today launched a new bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment policy setting out guidelines for researchers and institutions in receipt of its funding.

Under the new policy, colleges and universities hosting IRC awardees must deal swiftly and appropriately with allegations or incidents of bullying, harassment, or sexual harassment.

Institutions are now expected to advise the IRC when an allegation against a researcher in receipt of its funding has been upheld, or where an upheld allegation involves an academic supervisor of a postgraduate or postdoctoral researcher who receives funding from the IRC.

All researchers applying for funding to the IRC must also now declare that they have not had an allegation of bullying and/or harassment upheld against them for which there is a current disciplinary warning or sanction in place.

All academic supervisors and mentors must also self-certify that they have not had an allegation of bullying and/or harassment upheld against them for which there is a current disciplinary warning or sanction in place.

Bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment can be prevalent for early-career researchers and established academics, as well as undergraduate students, according to Peter Brown, director of the IRC.

“No workplace or campus is safe unless everyone is safe, and the research system is no different.” 

Our new policy aims to send a clear message to all those involved in the research system that bullying and harassment are not acceptable.” 

The IRC’s new policy ties in with moves in the wider higher education system to tackle bullying and harassment.

All higher education institutions are now required to have developed specific institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment.

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris and his department have also been working with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to launch a survey of staff and students, focused on sexual harassment and violence.

Mr Harris said: “This new Irish Research Council policy sends out a clear message to all research participants and I would like to thank them for their commitment to creating a safe environment to work and research free from harassment or bullying.”

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