Research proposals, including student proposals, submitted for review to a REC should include most of the information below.

The information should be understandable to an external member, though the precise way this is done is left to the discretion of the RO.

  • Aims of the research and scientific background of the research.
  • Study design.
  • Participants – who (inclusion and exclusion criteria), how many, how potential participants are identified and recruited.
  • Potentially vulnerable individuals or groups.
  • Methods of data collection and analysis.
  • Response to any conditions of use set by data custodians and data producers.
  • Principal investigator’s summary of potential ethics issues and how they will be addressed. This summary should be agreed by all parties to the research, including collaborators in other academic institutions and non-academic or international collaborators.
  • Benefits to research participants or third parties and how this will be maximised.
  • Risks to participants or third parties and what has been done to assess, obviate or minimise risks.
  • Risks to researchers and in particular how researchers will be protected or supported, especially in the field and outside the UK.
  • Procedures for freely given and adequately informed and valid consent – information provided and methods of documenting.
  • Procedures for dealing with information arising in the course of fieldwork that is a cause for concern, such as disclosures from participants or behaviours or incidents observed that raise significant concerns about the safety or wellbeing of participants or other affected by the research.
  • How any data collected will be kept secure, and methods of transferring data within teams, in compliance with the UK data protection legislation.
  • Mechanisms for managing data-sharing outside the proposed research team.
  • Details of research activity that falls outside the UK and links to overseas institutions.
  • Expected outcomes, impacts and benefits of research.
  • Pathways to impact and dissemination (and feedback to participants where appropriate) and possible ethics implications of these plans.
  • Data management and curation; what measures have been taken to ensure confidentiality, privacy and data protection during and beyond the end of the project? (see the ESRC Research Data Policy)
  • Members of Advisory Groups should state any conflict of interest and political affiliations, if appropriate, before joining the group.