Data privacy notice: Impact of Covid-19 on researchers and the UK research base

Privacy notice updated 25 May 2020

Privacy Notice: survey of UK researchers in 2020


This Privacy Notice (PN) sets out how we will use your personal data, and your rights. It is made under Articles 13 and/or 14 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


As data controller, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recognises its duty to people whose information it holds, to treat that information responsibly, keep it safe and secure, and process it correctly and proportionately.


This note only refers to your personal data, for example your name, address and anything that could be used to identify you personally. It does not refer to the content of your other responses to the survey.


Personal Data


Personal data is information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual. Personal data only includes information relating to natural persons who:


  • can be identified or who are identifiable, directly from the information in question; or
  • who can be indirectly identified from that information in combination with other information.




The Covid-19 pandemic and response has impacted research activities and outputs of the UK’s R&D sector in many ways. BEIS and CRAC/Vitae have the common interest of trying to protect UK researchers and research capacity of all types, and therefore wish to hear directly from UK researchers on the impact on their research work during ‘lockdown’ and the major concerns researchers have for UK R&D in light of Covid-19. 


BEIS is sponsoring this survey and will use aggregated data from this survey to develop policy which aims to:


  • Enable research and innovation to continue wherever possible - both in the short and long-term
  • Keep and develop talented researchers in the UK R&D system


Your data


We will process the following personal data if it is given in the survey: Name & address, plus anything that falls within the personal data definition immediately above.


Special Category Data


You will be asked if you will provide Special Category Data (SCD) in this survey. For example, personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin and data concerning health.

All questions are voluntary, and some ask for free text responses.  Please do not include SCD you would not be happy being used to identify themes of responses, although your free text answers will not be used as direct quotations in any reporting.




The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has partnered with CRAC/Vitae to undertake this survey.  BEIS is the data controller, with CRAC/Vitae as data processor.


CRAC/Vitae adheres to all General Data Protection Regulations and has conducted many surveys with the research population. You can find further detail on CRAC/Vitae GDPR and this project here:


BEIS and CRAC/Vitae will ask you for some voluntary personal data and process this to run a survey on the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on UK research capacity. The information you provide will help BEIS better understand the complex short-term and medium-term impacts of the UK Government ‘lockdown’ and social distancing on the activities and outputs of UK researchers.


CRAC/Vitae will also use your personal information to help us identify any responses from bots or other fraudulent sources to maintain the integrity of the survey.


When the survey is complete, CRAC/Vitae will pass on the response data to BEIS for analysis.  


Analysis and reporting will be at an aggregated level. UKRI and UUK have also contributed to the questions asked on this survey and BEIS will share aggregated (non-identifiable) survey findings, but only CRAC/Vitae and BEIS will have access to any personal data given.


BEIS/CRAC/Vitae will publish a short report using the aggregated data, without disclosing personal identities and without verbatim quotations. Reporting will not at individual/person level, nor at an organisation level (e.g. reporting will be done for types of organisation, not at individual Higher Education Institution level etc.). 


The survey will ask you for consent for BEIS or CRAC/Vitae to invite you to participate in further research within 2 years, and if you consent then we will ask for a name and email address.  Before transferring the survey data to BEIS, CRAC/Vitae will separate all names and email addresses into a new data file. This means names and email addresses will not be stored with the survey responses and both BEIS and CRAC/Vitae will securely dispose of all names/emails after 2 years. 



Legal basis for processing your personal data


Consent: You consent to us doing so.


The legal basis for processing any of your SCD which you volunteer, is that it is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest for the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown, or a government department. The function is obtaining opinion data, in order to develop good effective policies.




Your personal data will only be shared with a small number of relevant officials at CRAC/Vitae and within BEIS. 


Data will only be reported in aggregate form at broad types of research and types of researcher, with responses which could lead to the identification of an organisation or individual grouped to minimise this risk.


Other third parties with whom personal data will be shared with are:


  • The IT supplier providing survey hosting services (SurveyMonkey enterprise version is the hosting service, and here is their GDPR compliance information: ).


  • CRAC/Vitae to process the data. CRAC/Vitae will transfer the data to BEIS using a secure portal.


Response data from the survey will only be shared beyond BEIS and CRAC/Vitae in aggregated form. An aggregated analysis of responses may also be shared with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA), the National Audit Office (NAO) and central government departments. Additionally, responses may be used to inform future government publications.


Information provided whilst contributing to this survey, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with access to information regimes, primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Data Protection Act (2018). Your information would only be disclosed under information access regimes where doing so would not breach your data protection rights.




Your personal data will be held for 2 years following the completion of this research, with the rest of the dataset held for 5 years for analysis purposes, before deletion.


International Transfers


Our IT supplier providing survey management services may store data in the United States of America (the US). We will move the data to UK servers after the survey closes. We will delete all data stored on US servers within 90 days of the closure of this survey.



Your rights


  • You have the right to request information about how your personal data are processed, and to request a copy of that personal data.


  • You have the right to request that any inaccuracies in your personal data are rectified without delay.


  • You have the right to request that any incomplete personal data are completed, including by means of a supplementary statement.


  • You have the right to request that your personal data are erased if there is no longer a justification for them to be processed (you can withdraw your data completely up until the survey period ends, after which the data will be included in aggregate reports)


  • You have the right in certain circumstances (for example, where accuracy is contested) to request that the processing of your personal data is restricted.


  • You have the right to object to the processing of your personal data where it is processed for direct marketing purposes.


  • You have the right to object to the processing of your personal data


  • Where the personal data is processed on the basis of consent: You have the right to withdraw consent to the processing of your personal data at any time.




If you consider that your personal data has been misused or mishandled, you may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is an independent regulator.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:


Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

0303 123 1113


Any complaint to the Information Commissioner is without prejudice to your right to seek redress through the courts.


Contact details


The data controller for your personal data is the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).


You can contact the BEIS Data Protection Officer at: BEIS Data Protection Officer, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 151 Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria, London SW1W 9SZ.


Date of notice:  25 May 2020