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.
The NIHR policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results sets out our expectations of funded researchers undertaking clinical trials.
- Read more about guide for researchers about registering different types of NIHR-funded research studies on our regulatory approval, registration and governance page.
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.
- Read more about our requirements for study oversight on our regulatory approval, registration and governance page.
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.
- Read more about our guide on payment for reviewers and our guide to the payment of fees and expenses
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.
- Read more about our policy on clinical trial registration and disclosure of results
Research outputs and publications
NIHR-funded researchers must provide advance notification of research publications to the relevant NIHR coordinating centre.
- Read more about our research outputs and publications guidance.
Findings from all NIHR-funded research should be published in an Open Access, peer reviewed journal.
- Read more about our Open Access policy.
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.
- Read more about our statement on the sharing of research data.
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.
- Read more about how the NIHR uses information from Researchfish for analysis, research, evaluation and impact assessment
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.
Read more about the Government’s policies on research using animals set out in Working to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.
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.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org). The NIHR lead contact for research integrity is Quinton Newell (Director of Strategic Operations at the NIHR Coordinating Centre); email@example.com).
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.
Responsible Use of Metrics
NIHR’s Position on Responsible Use of Metrics describes our commitment to assessing research on its own merits.
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
It covers the type of information we collect and what we do with it, and also how long we keep it.
NIHR Service Desk
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.
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.