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What is a research contract and why do I need one?

Research contracts are the legally binding agreements that govern research activity that UCL undertakes with third parties (external funders, collaborators and service providers) in furtherance of UCL’s research objectives and overall academic mission. Such agreements are the vehicles for the exchange of funding, materials and information as well as vital in recording the rights and obligations of the parties in relation to the research to be undertaken.

They allow UCL and the individuals / organisations with which it is working to understand and manage their respective responsibilities, opportunities and risks and to provide evidence of their agreement to such arrangements with respect to a given transaction.

UCL’s funders and collaborators will usually expect (and often require) a research contract in order to provide their contribution and to pursue a given project / transaction with UCL. Such agreements provide the basis of each party’s commitment to perform allocated work within an agreed period, to exchange information and materials, to pay or be paid.

UCL also requires documentary evidence of its commitments for research activity, which are often best recorded in a legally binding agreement, for the purpose of audit of and accounting for research activity.

Research contracts come in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavours – both based on UCL’s standard agreements and also in more bespoke forms for unusual or complex transactions. For some examples, please see Research Contracts - Transaction Types.

Note: It is advisable that UCL staff seek advice from their allocated representative in the Research Contracts team in order to establish the most appropriate contractual arrangements for the activity that they are planning to undertake.