Assessing Your Risk Profile

When determining how to manage a new or ongoing research project, it is important to assess its risk profile. It is good practice to take time to examine your project from an economic and geopolitical standpoint. Proper assessment of risk can help you decide what mitigation measures may be warranted.

Keep in mind that taking action to address one specific risk indicator may not be enough to safeguard your research. You should explore whether an identified risk is an indication of a larger set of economic or political risks associated with your research.

Examples of areas of concern:

  • Potential for significant commercial impact
    • Is your research likely to have a future commercial or patentable benefit? This very same benefit may appear very appealing to individuals who want to gain access to your research.
  • Potential for significant national security impact
    • Are there any ways that your research's information or technology could have unintended/secondary military applications (dual-use applications), or could contribute to military proliferation?
    • Is any of your research subject to Canada's - or other countries' - export licence controls?
    • Does your research include working with controlled goods?
  • Potential for ethical or privacy concerns related to sensitive data
    • Does your research require you to store and protect sensitive data or personal information including: genetic or medical information and records, disaggregated population datasets, or details of individuals' or commercial test data?
    • Are there any potential ethical or moral concerns in your research or research data, in particular if an unauthorized third party misuses or accesses it?
    • Are there weaknesses in your data storage and protection plans, such as strategic access points, where non-authorized individuals could access or transmit this sensitive data?
    • Could foreign militaries or governments with different ethical standards use your research to support activities, such as internal surveillance or for political/military oppression?

You should assess your level of risk exposure and decide on the appropriate mitigation measures for your project. Guidelines and assessment tools were developed by the U15 and Universities Canada in collaboration with the Government of Canada-Universities Working Group. If your assessments reveal any of the above concerns, it is important to involve your institution's research services office.