How do you apply for approval to undertake research?

There are several stages to the approval process for research activity.

NES approval

In the first instance, you should seek and receive approval from a NES Director or their nominated representative before you proceed with your research.  Each directorate has a research representative who should be your first point of contact:

  • Dentistry - Linda Young / Claire Tochel
  • NMAHP - Iain Colthart, Lesley Whyte, Val Blair
  • Medicine - Peter Johnston
  • Pharmacy - Ailsa Power
  • Planning – Helen Allbutt
  • Psychology - Neil Millar

If you are proposing to undertake research and are located in another directorate, please contact the relevant Director for approval.

Ethical and Management approval

If you wish to conduct research in NHS or community care settings, you must also obtain NHS management permission (also referred to as local R&D approval) from each site/board area where your research is being carried out.

You may also need to apply for and receive approval from an established NHS Research Ethics Committee (NHS REC Review). You will likely be required to do so if your research is proposing to investigate:

  • service users and/or carers (past and present)
  • adults (age 16 or over) who lack capacity to consent for themselves (applications must go to Scotland A Research Ethics Committee)
  • prisoners
  • practising midwives conducting a clinical trial
  • confidential patient information

If this is the case, you will have to make your application using the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS).

There is no longer a requirement to apply for NHS REC review if a project involves NHS staff recruited as research participants by virtue of their professional role.  Similarly, research that makes use of, or requires access to, NHS premises or facilities does not need REC review.

If you are undertaking research as part of a higher degree, you will also need to check whether under your institution’s policy and internal arrangements, ethical review is required.

Please also refer to the NES Research Governance Policy for further details.