What to expect as a research participant - ESRC

The support provided by members of the public, when agreeing to take part in social science research, helps create a true picture of society today. Without this support it would prove difficult for social science researchers to uncover findings of benefit to science and society. Therefore we take seriously the expectations of those taking part in research (research participants).

What participants can expect

ESRC-funded researchers should be guided by our research ethics principles.

Research should be independent, aimed at disclosing the truth, and not conducted for the personal gain of the researcher or his or her research organisation.

How researchers should treat you

Researchers should be polite and professional towards you at all times and to show that your views, values, lifestyle and beliefs are understood, respected and valued, even if they differ from those of the researchers’.

Any risks will have been thought about beforehand by the researchers who will have taken steps to minimise these. If there are any risks the researcher will explain these to you clearly before you decide whether or not to participate.

You should be given clear and full information about the research and what your participation will involve.

You should also be given enough time to carefully consider your decision before you agree to take part and plenty of opportunity to ask questions about the research and have these questions answered.

You should be able to change your mind about taking part, without needing to give any reasons and with no negative consequences. You should not be put under any pressure to participate, or experience anything negative if you decide that you don’t want to take part. You should not be given anything to induce you to take part other than reasonable compensation (for example travel expenses).

You can expect to be listened to and steps taken to address your concerns for example if you want to talk about the research with someone other than the researchers, they should be able to give you details of an alternative contact.

A researcher should assist you in accessing help or support if something unexpected happens during the research, for example if something upsets you.

Your information

If there is any information that you have given that you do not want the researchers to use or you prefer to remain private (or if you prefer, to be identified by name, where possible) – you should be able to tell the researchers. For example if the research is likely to lead to what you say being quoted, or the publishing of information that could identify you – such as photographic or video images of you, or places and people connected with you.

Any information that you have given should be stored in secure conditions with appropriate access and treated confidentially unless you wish or agree otherwise.

Research results

You can ask to be told about the outcomes of the research when the project has finished.


Travel or other expenses that you incur while taking part will be reimbursed.

Risks to you

The research should not involve any risk of harm to yourself (for example, potential physical or psychological harm, discomfort, stress or reputational risk, risk to your personal social standing, privacy, personal values and beliefs), anyone else connected with you or anyone else potentially affected by the research.

How research is managed

Any research funded by the ESRC will be managed throughout by a research organisation that is required to oversee the integrity and proper conduct of all aspects of the project. The ethics issues of ESRC-funded research will have received the appropriate ethics review, usually by an independent research ethics committee, to ensure that the research is conducted.

Last updated: 17 August 2021

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