Proposals submitted to the ESRC must provide a full ethics statement that confirms that proper consideration has been given to any ethics issues raised. All ESRC-funded grants must be approved by at least a light-touch ethics review.

The ESRC does not require a favourable ethics opinion to be secured prior to submission of a research proposal. However, a proposal must state what the applicant considers to be the possible ethics implications throughout the research project lifecycle, what measures will be taken for ongoing consideration of ethics issues, what review will be required for their proposed research and how and when it will be obtained.

Risk and benefit to researchers, participants and others (eg potentially stigmatised or marginalised groups) as a result of the research and the potential impact, knowledge exchange, dissemination activity and future re-use of the data should also be considered as part of the ethical statement. 

If an ethics review is required at a later stage in the project, this should be discussed and funding arrangements agreed in advance with the ESRC. At a minimum we expect that ethics review will be undertaken prior to the stage in the project that the actual research is carried out.

During peer review, reviewers and assessors will be asked to consider the ethical statement in the proposal. If they disagree with the proposed approach to ethics issues, or the statement does not adequately address these issues, this could lead to the rejection of a proposal, or the award of a conditional grant to ensure the necessary ethical considerations and ethical review are undertaken.

Ethics statements examples

Research in low income countries

Internet-mediated research

Research with vulnerable people