School of Health in Social Science

Research in International Contexts

The guidance available through these webpages is for researchers working internationally or in unfamiliar environments more generally. It contains University guidelines advice on health and safety.

Alongside robust ethical oversight, research undertaken abroad or with international partners can require additional attention to research ethics, governance and management, as well as the health and safety of researchers. 

Health and Safety

All those travelling on University Business are strongly advised to consult the University’s Business Travel Guidelines. Here you will find up-to-date information on insurance, safety, travel, health, and what to do in case of an emergency.

It is strongly recommended that any member of staff or student travelling on behalf of the University arranges travel insurance and if necessary undertakes a travel risk assessment. Health advice for those travelling overseas can be provided by the University Occupational Health Unit, including pre-travel consultations and appropriate vaccinations.

Working in Low and Middle-Income Countries

The University of Edinburgh’s Research Support Office offers a toolkit for researchers wishing to build fair and equal partnerships in low and middle-income countries. This in-depth guide is a highly recommended resource for all researchers considering working internationally in general. Additionally, the DFID Ethics Principles for Research and Evaluation is a useful reference for those considering undertaking research in LMICs.

Topics covered include:

  1. Agenda setting and research conceptualization
  2. Clarifying responsibilities
  3. Proposal development
  4. Research ethics and integrity
  5. Capacity building
  6. Legal foundations and governance
  7. Duty of care
  8. Risk management
  9. Communication
  10. Payments
  11. Monitoring and evaluation
  12. Continuing the partnership
Access to the Building Ethical, Sustainable Partnerships tool here (secured) (EASE login required).


You can also utilise the Ethical Action in Global Research Toolkit. This site provides an ethics toolkit for researchers, practitioners and others who conduct or support research in complex, low income or fragile settings. This toolkit is the result of a series of discussions with more than 200 global researchers from more than 30 countries designed to inform and support ethical choices in global research.