Framework for research ethics

As the principal funding agency for UK social science research, we require that the research we support is:

  • designed and conducted in such a way that it meets certain ethical principles
  • subject to proper professional and institutional oversight in terms of research governance.

We have always made it clear that the framework for research ethics should be a living document which we are committed to developing over time. Updates to the document will take into account the experiences of the ESRC, other research organisations and key stakeholders as well as future challenges arising from the wider ethics environment.

The Framework for Research Ethics (FRE) was introduced in 2006. Since then we have only funded research where consideration has been given to ethical implications, and in those institutions where appropriate arrangements are in place. The Framework therefore has implications for applicants to ESRC, research ethics committees within HEIs and for those assessing research proposals.

Latest edition: September 2012

Revisions in this edition include a re-formatted layout, a comprehensive table of contents, updated web links, clarified review process flow chart (Appendix B), and some minor revisions to content.

Comments or enquiries about ESRC's Framework for Research Ethics or any related matters should be sent to