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Our policies and guidelines

The research NIHR funds is world-leading and we operate to the highest standards. Consistent with this, we are signatories of both the Concordat to Support Research Integrity and the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers

At NIHR, we expect our staff and the researchers we fund to abide by all regulatory and legislative frameworks in relation to research practice, transparency and governance. We are committed to fully investigating any alleged wrongdoing and ensuring individuals are confident and protected in bringing matters to our attention. We support and adhere to the government approach to whistleblowing.
 
The key policies and guidelines we expect our staff and the researchers we fund to adhere to are set out below. Additional policies and guidelines can be found in our documents library.

If you have any questions about our policies or guidelines, please contact NIHRpolicies@dhsc.gov.uk.

Research practice

Study registration

The NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results sets out our expectations of funded researchers undertaking clinical trials.

Research project steering committees

All research projects funded by the NIHR research programmes are required to have a steering committee. The committee provides overall supervision for a project on behalf of the project sponsor and project funder, and ensures that the project is conducted to rigorous governance standards.

Reward and recognition for public contributors

As a public contributor you will be offered a payment when we ask you to get involved in reviewing a research funding application or research commissioning brief. These are ‘honorarium’ payments. They are a form of reward and recognition offered for the contribution that you make to our work.

Clinical trial registration and disclosure of results

 Prospective study registration and timely disclosure of results are critical to ensure full transparency of clinical trials funded by NIHR. These principles are also important from ethical, moral, accountability, research integrity and waste reduction perspectives.

Research outputs and publications

NIHR-funded researchers must provide advance notification of research publications to the relevant NIHR coordinating centre.

Open access

Findings from all NIHR-funded research should be published in an open access, peer reviewed journal.

Sharing of research data

The NIHR strongly supports the appropriate sharing of data produced during research, to help deliver research that maximises benefits to patients and the wider public, the health and care system and which contributes to economic growth in the UK.

Use of Researchfish for analysis, evaluation and impact assessment

The NIHR uses information provided to us by our award holders (researchers and Centres) via Researchfish for a variety of analytical purposes to inform our research, evaluation, impact assessment, comparative analysis and continuous improvement activities.

Use of animals in research

Our funding is focused on translational, clinical and applied health and care research. We therefore do not fund basic research or work involving animals, animal tissue or both.

However, we do work in close partnership with the Medical Research Council, which funds animal research in carefully defined circumstances.

We recognise that the carefully regulated use of animals in research is important in understanding disease and in developing safe and effective ways of preventing or treating illness.

We also recognise the need for robust application of the 3Rs – that animals are replaced with non-animal alternatives wherever possible, that the number of animals used is reduced to the minimum needed to achieve the results sought, and that, for those animals which must be used, procedures are refined as much as possible to minimise their suffering.

Research culture and integrity

A positive research culture requires a number of key elements to support it and these include a supportive environment for researchers and their career development, and clear principles for research integrity and conducting research.

Research integrity

The Concordat to Support Research Integrity, to which the NIHR is a signatory, ensures that research produced by or in collaboration with the UK research community is underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.

The NIHR Conflict of Interest Policy for Funding and Awards is to ensure that the personal and institutional interests of those involved in reviewing applications do not influence the decision making process.

The senior member of staff responsible for oversight of research integrity is Dr Mark Toal (Deputy Director of Research Systems at the Department of Health and Social Care; nihrpolicies@dhsc.gov.uk). The NIHR lead contact for research integrity is Quinton Newell (Director of Finance, Operation and Information Services at NIHR Central Commissioning Facility; quinton.newell@nihr.ac.uk). 

Researcher development

The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers is an agreement between stakeholders including funders and employers to improve the employment and support for researchers and researcher careers in higher education in the UK. NIHR is a signatory to the Concordat. 

Research management and conduct

The UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research outlines the principles of good practice in the management and conduct of health and social care research in the UK. All NIHR-funded research must be completed in accordance with this framework.  Any potential complaint relating to misconduct in research will be investigated and managed under the UKRIO Code of Practice for Research.

Bullying and harassment

There is no place for bullying and harassment in the workplace or related working environment. NIHR expects that, across the wide range of organisations and people it funds, supports and collaborates with, there are clear policies in place to address bullying and harassment in order to promote a culture of inclusivity and tolerance which enables people to thrive.

Privacy and FOI

Privacy

The NIHR privacy policy outlines how we use and securely protect any information that you give us when you use the NIHR website and other websites, systems and services of organisations that are contracted to the Department of Health and Social Care.

It covers the type of information we collect and what we do with it, and also how long we keep it.

As part of this policy you have a right to find out about the personal information we hold about you. If you would like a copy of your personal data or if you have any questions about the privacy policy please write or email:

NIHR Service Desk
Back Lane
Melbourn
Royston
SG8 6DP

gdpr_requests@nihr.ac.uk

Protecting personal data

Researchers and study coordinators must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with respect to processing personal data, such as from research participants.

The Health Research Authority has published operational guidance on the implications of the GDPR for the delivery of research in the UK. 

Patient consent

People who are invited to take part in health and care research must give informed consent before being enrolled. For consent to be considered both legal and ethical it must be:

  • given by a person with capacity
  • voluntarily given, with no undue influence
  • given by someone who has been adequately informed
  • a fair choice.

We expect that research funded or supported by the NIHR follows best practice in consent and the preparation of information for participants, as set out by the Health Research Authority

Freedom of Information

The NIHR is subject to the Freedom of Information arrangements of the Department of Health and Social Care. More information on their policy and how to make a request is available on the Department of Health and Social Care website