Bullies barred from applying for Irish research funding

Applicants will have to certify that they have not been found guilty of bullying or harassment under new policy

June 24, 2021
Upset young female student illustrating article about Irish Research Council policy against bullying and harassment
Source: iStock

Academics who have been found guilty of harassment or bullying have been barred from applying for research funding or supervising funded early career scholars in the Republic of Ireland.

A new bullying, harassment and sexual harassment policy launched by the Irish Research Council (IRC) says that all researchers applying for funding must self-certify that they have not had an allegation of bullying or harassment upheld against them “for which there is a current disciplinary warning or sanction in place”.

On applications for the IRC’s early career awards, all academic supervisors and mentors must make a similar declaration.

The policy also states that institutions hosting IRC awardees “must deal swiftly and appropriately with allegations and incidents of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment”.

“Institutions are expected to advise the IRC where an allegation of bullying and/or harassment against a participant in an IRC award has been upheld or where an upheld allegation involves an academic supervisor/mentor of a postgraduate or postdoctoral researcher funded by the IRC,” the funder said.

Peter Brown, the IRC’s director, said that creating a “safe and respectful research environment for one and all is the collective challenge we face”.

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

“Working together with our department, other research funders and the wider higher education system, we aim to ensure we are building a research system free from bullying and harassment – one where early career researchers feel fully supported to progress in their careers and where all researchers can work with dignity and respect.”

Irish universities were told last year by the country’s government to develop institutional plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment.

“At the institutional level, there is an onus to ensure allegations of bullying and harassment are investigated promptly and dealt with effectively – and that students, researchers and other staff feel comfortable and confident in coming forward to report abuse,” Mr Brown continued.

“There is also an onus on mentors and supervisors to ensure they never abuse their positions of power. And there is an onus on early career researchers – and, indeed, researchers at all levels – to call out inappropriate behaviour when it happens.

“While we must be vigilant in stamping out unacceptable behaviour, it is also important that good practice, like supportive supervision and mentorship is recognised and applauded, and we will have upcoming announcements in this regard.”


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