Wellcome Trust: New policy to promote ‘positive research cultures’ aimed at tackling bullying

In 2017 the Wellcome Trust received more than 4,000 applications and funded 939 awards for a total well over £1 billion. Wellcome’s involvement doesn’t stop when the funding starts though, and they have unveiled a new set of regulations looking to tackle bullying and harassment. Wellcome’s new policy outlines what information we need to be given when, and what actions we might take in response. We will work with the institutions we fund to ensure this happens.

Their policy is in line with existing internal policies for Wellcome employees, and they report that it will help them achieve the goals of Diversity and inclusion that they have prioritised in the area of UK research. By being clear about their expectations and responsibilities as a funder, just as they are in relation to issues such as research integrity and open access to research, this policy will hopefully help to promote and maintain healthy research cultures. Wellcome themselves described the steps as providing the stepping stones to a culture “in which great ideas thrive, which is fundamental to our vision for improving health”.

The policy complements guidelines on good research practice which were updated in April, https://wellcome.ac.uk/funding/managing-grant/policy-good-research-practice. From 1st June, Wellcome will also now be asking organisations to confirm on submission that the lead applicant (and sponsor/supervisor if relevant) has no upheld allegations with respect to fraud and research misconduct.

The policy explains how Wellcome defines bullying and harassment and sets out the standards of behaviour that they expect from those involved in Wellcome-funded activities, as they do for Wellcome staff. It also sets out their expectations of organisations receiving Wellcome funds in investigating and notifying them of bullying and harassment claims. They will require organisations to inform them when an allegation of bullying or harassment have been upheld against someone associated with Wellcome funding, once the entire process (including an appeal if there is one) has completed.

For more information and key details about the policy then please take a look at the online resource that Wellcome have setup.

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Al Innes

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