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Scenarios - Research, Correspondence, and Informal Scientific Exchanges

Key Concepts

Supply - when controlled technology, or access to that technology, is provided to users located outside of Australia.

Publication - when controlled technology is placed it in the public domain.

Pre-publication - activities, such as supplying a draft publication to a publisher or a peer reviewer, that support the pubication process.

Export - sending goods and/or technology from Australia to a place outside of Australia.

As a first step, it is important to understand whether the goods or technologies you are using actually trigger control thresholds. You can self-assess using the Online DSGL Tool on the DEC website.

The list of controlled goods and technologies (the Defence and Strategic Goods List) is split into two parts:

Part 1 lists munitions (or military) items. These items are more tightly controlled.

Part 2 lists dual-use items; that is, items that may be used for commercial purposes, but may be used in military systems or for weapon of mass destruction purposes.

Research, Correspondence, and Informal Scientific Exchanges

Scenario One - Foreign graduate students

Do I need a permit for a foreign graduate student to work in my laboratory?

No. If your laboratory is in Australia, you do not require an export permit as export controls only apply to the supply or export of DSGL technology from Australia to outside Australia.

Scenario Two - Foreign researchers in Australia

Our company has entered into a cooperative research arrangement with a research group at a university. One of the researchers in that group is of a different nationality. I would like to share some of our information with the university research group and their foreign scientist. Do I need a permit to do so?

No. If you are located in Australia, you do not require a permit as export controls only apply to the supply or export of DSGL technology from Australia to outside Australia.

If the researcher is located outside Australia you will need a supply permit to share (i.e. via email or providing access) DSGL technology with the researcher. Access to DSGL technology could involve, for example, providing a password to access the technology. However, phone calls about DSGL technology from inside Australia to outside Australia are not controlled, unless they are providing access to DSGL technology or the supply is for use in a Weapons of Mass Destruction Program or for military-end-use.

Scenario Three - Visiting academics

My university will host an international scientist who is an expert on research in engineered ceramics and composite materials. Do I require a permit before sharing my latest, as yet unpublished, research results with the visitor in Australia?

No. If the supply occurs in Australia, you do not require a permit as export controls only apply to the supply or export of DSGL technology from Australia to outside Australia.

Scenario Four - Collaborating with experts overseas

My visiting scientist has returned to their home institution and we are looking to write up the results of our collaboration. Do I need a permit to exchange emails and data from our joint collaboration?

If your technology listed on Part 1 or Part 2 of the DSGL you will require a permit to supply the technology to the researcher located overseas.

Would it make any difference if I were proposing to talk with an expert overseas?

If you were to share your research orally with an expert located outside Australia, you would not require a permit, unless you are providing access to DSGL technology or the supply is for use in a Weapons of Mass Destruction Program or for a military end-use.

Providing access to DSGL technology could include, orally sharing with the researcher how to access the database containing your research (e.g. by giving them the username and password) - this falls outside of the oral supply exemption.

Could I do some work with an expert in their research laboratory overseas?

You would not require an export permit to work with the expert in their laboratory overseas.

Suppose the research in question were funded by a corporate sponsor and I had agreed to prepublication review of any paper arising from the research?

Funding relationships have no impact on export controls.

  • Pre-publication activities for Part 2 DSGL technology, such as review of a paper prior to publication, are exempt from controls.
  • If your research paper includes technology listed in Part 1 of the DSGL, you will require a permit to supply your research to any person located outside Australia. You will also require approval from the Minister for Defence to publish the research.

Scenario Five - Sponsored research

I have undertaken research funded by a corporate sponsor, which includes technology listed in Part 1 of the DSGL, and while the funder is a registered Australian company, it has branches overseas. Do I need approval to provide reports to the company as I cannot guarantee they will not share with their other branches?

No, if you are providing DSGL technology to the company in Australia this is not controlled, as the supply is occurring entirely within Australia.

If the company were to then supply DSGL technology to one of its branches outside of Australia, the company will need to seek a supply permit to do so, unless any exemptions apply.

Scenario Six - Publishing research findings

I am doing university research in the research laboratory of an industrial corporation. Do I need approval to publish?

Is your technology listed in Part 1 or Part 2 of the DSGL?

  • If your research contains only Part 2 DSGL technology, no publication approval is required.
  • If it includes Part 1 DSGL technology, and no exemptions apply, you will require approval from the Minister for Defence to publish.

Scenario Seven - Sharing unpublished research findnigs

I would like to compare as yet unpublished research results with a scientific colleague from another country and discuss the results with them when they visit Australia. Do I need approval to do so?

Is your technology listed in Part 1 or Part 2 of the DSGL?

Sharing research results is considered a supply, and will need a supply permit. If you are only going to share results orally (e.g. telephone conversation), you will not need a supply permit.

When they visit Australia, you will not need a permit to share DSGL technology as the supply is occurring entirely inside Australia.

Scenario Eight - Sharing unpublished research with foreign nationals

I work as a researcher at a publically-funded research agency in Australia. May I share the results of my unpublished research with foreign nationals without concern for export controls?

If you share your research with a person located in Australia, you will not need approval as the supply is occurring entirely inside Australia.

Supply controls apply to any DSGL technology leaving Australia. If you wish to share your research with people located outside Australia, and the research results are controlled, you will need a permit to supply the DSGL technology.

Scenario Nine - Researching DSGL technology

Do I need approval to conduct a research project on DSGL technology with international collaborators?

If the collaboration involves sharing DSGL technology with persons or entities outside of Australia, you will need a permit that covers all supplies or exports of controlled goods and technology. You can apply for a permit that will cover all exports or supplies of DSGL technology for the duration of the project.

Scenario Ten - Research developing DSGL technology

I have a joint research project with a foreign university. At the beginning of the project, I did not foresee that any of our results will be relevant to the development of DSGL technologies (especially Part 1). However, the results obtained now jointly in Australia and in the foreign university can be used for such purposes. What should I do?

If, through the conduct of your research, you come to the realisation that the outcomes may have resulted in DSGL technology, you should notify your institution's compliance team. They will help you determine if a permit is required from DEC.

Scenario Eleven - Travelling researchers

I am an academic at the University of Australia. I also hold a joint appointment in country Y. Combining my research in Australia and in country Y would give an outcome of a DSGL technology. I got this idea when I was on holiday in Country Z. How does the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 apply to me on this matter? What if I send the DSGL technology to my colleague in country Y? What if I send the DSGL technology to my colleague in Australia?

No supply permit will be required to send the technology from Country Z. As this is occurring wholly outside Australia, export controls do not apply.

What if I lodge a patent application containing DSGL technology?

If you lodge a patent either in Australia or overseas, you will not require a permit as the DSGL exempts information as part of the patent application process.

This patent exception is not available if the application contains Category 0 (nuclear materials) DSGL technology, in which case you will need a permit to lodge the patent application.

Scenario Twelve - University with an offshore campus

I am part of a research project that will be conducted by staff on the Australian campus and an offshore campus of the university. We will be using the same database to store and share our data. Our research is DSGL technology. What approvals do we need?

If your institution views both campuses and associated researchers as part of the same body corporate, you will not require a permit as a "person" cannot supply to themselves.

If your institution does not view both campuses and associated researchers as part of the same body corporate, you will need a supply permit as you are providing people outside of Australia with access to DSGL technology. You can apply for a permit that will cover all exports or supplies of DSGL technology for the duration of the project.

Scenario Thirteen - Clud storage of research data

I am an international researcher working at the University of Australia for 12 months on a collaborative research project. As part of the research agreement, the universities have agreed that the data will be stored on the cloud service at my home university so I will be entering, analysing and downloading data and information from an international cloud service while I am located in Australia. I am working with DSGL technology. Do I need any permits?

No, if you are saving DSGL technology to a cloud service for storage purposes, with no intention of providing access to people outside Australia, you will not need a permit. However, if you give someone overseas access to your research on the cloud server then you will require a permit. You will also require a permit to supply your research to anyone overseas.

I wish to email my results and draft publication to colleagues within my organisation, but my organisation uses cloud technology for emails - is this an issue?

If you are supplying DSGL technology to colleagues located in Australia, you do not need a permit as the supply is taking place entirely within Australia.

If you email your colleagues or provide them access to the DSGL technology while they are overseas, you will need a permit regardless of whether the information is stored on a cloud and regardless of where the cloud servers are located.