Safeguarding Research

Eight Security Cameras Watching

Research at Western is a global endeavour with our success and impact due, in no small part, to working with the best and brightest internationally. Partnerships are an essential component of research, and the majority of research partnerships provide mutual benefit to all parties. Western also remains unwavering in its support of institutional autonomy, freedom of expression, and equity, diversity, and inclusion in the pursuance of research partnerships.

It is imperative significant thought and consideration is given to ensuring all parties are aligned, right at the onset, as it pertains to the goals and desired outcomes of any research project, including research fee-for-service. Some activities by foreign governments, militaries and other entities pose real risks to research integrity and national security. As such, Western operates under a maxim of “as open as possible, as secure as necessary.” Across Canada, researchers, research institutions, federal granting agencies, and the Government of Canada are addressing these risks through a shared responsibility to identify and mitigate any potential national security risks related to research.

All researchers are encouraged to use the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships to assess all research partnerships, regardless of partner or funder, to protect their work and ensure its use is in line with the project goals. At Western, we will continue to support our research community through updated administrative processes, tools and resources as new developments and protocols for safeguarding research are established at the provincial and federal level.

What is Research Security?

Broadly speaking, research security refers to the measures protecting knowledge, technologies and data that could assist a foreign threat's advancement of geopolitical, economic or security interests to Canada's detriment. Target assets can vary from applications in weapons of mass destruction programs (e.g., chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) to dual-use technologies (e.g., those with both civilian and military applications) such as artificial intelligence, bio and nanotechnologies, quantum computing and the intellectual property and confidential information used for research. 

What is Being Done?

In September 2020, Canada launched the Safeguarding Your Research portal to disseminate guidance and tools for researchers and research administrators. On July 12, 2021, the Government of Canada released new National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships, developed in collaboration with the Government of Canada–Universities Working Group. The new guidelines will integrate national security considerations into the development, evaluation and funding of research partnerships.

Interests in Western's research include applications to military or intelligence capabilities of other countries. The National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships provide guidance to minimize the misappropriation of research results and the theft of research data or intellectual property that could lead to reputational damage to the university.

Academic Freedom and Collaboration

Academic freedom and diversity in research collaboration remains the hallmark of Western's scholarly and research activities. Western values opportunities for all members of our research community to participate in research with transparency and zero harassment or coercion tolerance. The principles of safeguarding research are to ensure partnerships are similarly aligned with Western's goals to use and implement research findings.

How to Safeguard Your Research

Western researchers are encouraged to take measures towards safeguarding research from undue foreign influence. Managing these risks often requires knowledge in areas unrelated to the research team’s expertise. The U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and Universities Canada in collaboration with the Government of Canada-Universities Working Group have created a guide to many of the issues, including best practices. This resource outlines information to conduct best practices including assessing risk potential and mitigating risks.

If You Are Contacted by CSIS

If you are contacted by a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officer as a member of the Western community, we recommend that you contact the office of the Vice-President (Research) to let us know of the request.

Please see below for more detail.




Travel Security

International travel is often necessary for data acquisition, collaboration and the overall pursuit of knowledge. Canadian researchers required to travel internationally should be cognizant they are vulnerable as targets for their research and knowledge. The U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and Universities Canada in collaboration with the Government of Canada - Universities Working Group created a guide addressing what these threats are and actions you can take to mitigate your risk to them. 

Travel Resources:

Additional Resources





If you have any questions about a potential or current international partner, please contact