Framework for research ethics - ESRC


Our commitment

We recognise the importance of high ethical standards within research.

We only fund research which has an adequate and appropriate ethics statement and which takes seriously the ethics dimensions of the research.

Peer reviews

We ensure that the peer review of proposals considers ethics issues. During review, peer reviewers and commissioning panel members will be asked to consider whether the information provided by the applicant adequately addresses ethics issues that may be encountered during or following the research.

We consider reviewer or panel member disagreement with the suggested project approach to ethics as either grounds for a conditional grant or rejection of a proposal (where it calls into question researcher competence or the feasibility or validity of a proposal).

We consider suspension of payments and grant termination if a Research ethics committee (REC) review shows that a project requires major changes which will alter it so much that it can no longer retain ESRC support.

Processes and agreements

We only fund research organisations (ROs) that have processes in place to follow the guidance in this framework and comply with the research councils’ grant conditions and the UKRI policy and guidelines on governance of good research conduct.

We engage in cross-research council assurance activities to check that commitments to thorough ethics assessment and review of projects are being followed by ROs.

We expect that commitment to mutual recognition of common standards of ethical considerations between funders will be agreed when working in partnership with other research councils, businesses, public sector organisations, research charities, the voluntary sector or international funding organisations.

Postgraduate training

We will identify any ethics guidance that is specific to postgraduate training within the ESRC postgraduate funding guide.

Research misconduct and breaches of compliance

We will call into account the RO, principal investigator and researchers involved in upheld allegations of research misconduct and breach of compliance with the research councils’ grant conditions in ESRC-funded research.

Sanctions may apply depending on the severity of the breach. This could result in the immediate suspension of the individual project and other projects based at or co-ordinated by the administering RO, and a halt to considering further proposal submissions from that RO.

Find out more

For further information please refer to UKRI policy and guidelines on governance of good research conduct.

Last updated: 16 June 2022

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