Understanding health research - MRC

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Ethical approval

All studies which will involve people as participants need a research ethics committee (REC) review. The principal investigator (or lead researcher on the study) is responsible for seeking this review.

RECs are there to protect the rights, dignity and wellbeing of research participants. So they will consider things such as fairness of the study population, burden to participants, duty of confidence.

In the UK, ethical review is usually sought from the lead researcher’s university or from one of the HRA’s NHS RECs. NHS REC review is a requirement for certain types of research.

Find out more by visiting the HRA decision tool: Do I need NHS REC approval?

In addition to ethical approval, you may need other approvals or permissions in place before your research can begin. Exactly what you will need will depend on your research and what will be involved in your investigation.

We provide further guidance on:

You may also need a sponsor, learn more about sponsorship in your local research office.

You can also get in touch with us, if you have a question about the approvals needed for your research:
Email: rsc@mrc.ukri.org

Any relevant approvals or permissions must be in place before your research starts. (They do not need to be in place before you apply for funding).

Last updated: 5 April 2022

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