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In this paper we outline what we understand modern universities and militaries to be and what their functions are before delving into the issues arising for academics seeking to undertake research into military matters. As we do this, our primary audience is academe. However, we also believe this paper assists military personnel in understanding the background and some key considerations of the academics they may encounter in their barracks or in the field. The value of an understanding of the other side’s perspective and institutional culture is a strategic advantage that military personnel will appreciate when academe and military meet. In fact, we would look forward to a team of soldiers writing the counter piece to this paper: ‘When military meets academe’. This paper seeks to discuss broader issues that affect the engagement between academics and soldiers, such as the levels of militarisation and militarism in societies at large as well as more practical matters (such as operating in danger zones) in ascertaining how, if at all, academics and military personnel might best interact. These broader issues also include some reflections on matters that directly and typically influence or shape the relationships between these two sides: secrecy and the risk of seduction, as well as competing organisational cultures (such as the Universities’ role as ‘critic and conscience’ and militaries’ roles in defending the state) and different levels of acceptable risk. Note that for the purposes of this brief paper we capture such key issues in only broad strokes, thus we warn the reader that we must necessarily work in somewhat blunt terms.

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