The primary management of CREST is provided by the Director and Executive Director, who, supported by the Centre Manager, ensure all of CREST’s activities meet high standards in relation to academic integrity, accountability to funders, stakeholders and the wider public, clear strategic direction, and adherence to requirements in respect of data management and ethics.
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
As the public body responsible for commissioning CREST, the ESRC has a key role in ensuring that the Centre upholds the expectations is has of all research Centres. Accordingly, the ESRC has oversight of the Centre’s activities, and annually it receives and reviews an annual report and forward planning document.
The strategic direction of CREST is reviewed and developed by a stakeholder Advisory Board. The Advisory Board consists of representatives from the research community, public and policy bodies, and organisations that play a critical role in countering security threats. Together, they review and develop the strategic direction of CREST.
CREST occasionally seeks independent evaluations of its performance and value for money. The latest review was conducted in 2019 and explored the impact of CREST’s research.
Research data policy
All research undertaken within CREST must conform to the Centre’s Data Management Plan, which was prepared in accordance with the ESRC’s Research Data Policy and the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity. This Management Plan requires that CREST’s researchers, inter alia:
- assess and utilize existing data (and methodological/experimental materials) where it is available
- manage new data through a tiered system that ensures public accessibility and participant confidentiality
- carry out quality assurance checks on data
- appropriately back-up the data and hold it securely at all times
- ensure that their activities do not violate copyright/IR rights
- prepare data for sharing and archiving at the UK Data Archive in a timely fashion.
Research and ethics
The topics being studied within CREST and the collaborative relationship the Centre has with the security and intelligence agencies make it particularly important that transparent and comprehensive ethics processes are in place. All activities of CREST have ethical oversight, even when they do not involve the collection of new data. To deliver a comprehensive ethics review process, CREST combines the existing approval processes at the partner universities with its own Security Research Ethics Committee (SREC). All research projects are first evaluated through the relevant Institutional process and then by SREC. All non-research activities, which fall outside the remit of Institutional review processes, are reviewed by SREC. All committees have the mandate to stop work proceeding.
Institutional ethics committees
At each of the Partner Institutions, the committee responsible for ethical approval is chaired by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor or his delegate; has membership from senior academics who represent multiple disciplines; and takes input from external, independent members. They operate under a comprehensive ethics framework that meets the requirements set out in University UK’s Concordat to Support Research Integrity and RCUK’s Policy and Guidelines on the Governance of Good Research Conduct. This requires that:
- investigators meet best practices regarding data security and integrity
- investigators take responsibility for the actions of research associates and students
- there is a clear and responsive process for identifying and handling misconduct.
Security Research Ethics Committee (SREC)
SREC is chaired by Professor John Towse at Lancaster University. The Communications Director sits on SREC to ensure that dissemination and public transparency is considered at the earliest stages. The remit of SREC is to consider issues relating to:
- the potential misuse of the research
- the risks and benefits of public sharing, especially to national security
- the best way to promote public consumption and ensure transparency
- the wellbeing and security of personnel
- the support of researchers at the early stage of project development.