Permission and approval

Funder requirements

Funders’ requirements can vary a great deal, depending on factors such as their size and remit, how often they fund research, and on what scale. As with any aspect of your proposal, you need to check the requirements of your specific funder. See our section on related resources for links to common research funders’ websites.

Funders’ requirements generally relate to two concerns:

  • First, your proposal should include a statement about the ethics considerations posed by your research and how those will be addressed. Peer reviewers and referees are nearly always asked by funders to comment specifically on the ethics of the proposed study – this is certainly true for the research councils and big charitable funders such as Nuffield and JRF.
  • Second, most funders now have specific requirements about ethics approval and your proposal should state what ethics approval you will need and how you will obtain it. Most funders will not require you to secure ethics approval before you submit a proposal. Check what it is your funder requires.

Even if your funder does not set specific requirements for ethics approval or other governance permission, you need to check if ethics approval or other permission is required by your organisation, or as a result of the participants or data that you hope to include.

See our key questions for guidance on this.

Most funders have clear requirements about what you need to do, and many will assign a manager who is responsible for your grant, and you can contact them to check any details about which you are unsure. Your own institution’ research office will also have experience of working with many funders, and can advise you too – they are probably your best starting point for advice.

Occasionally (and especially with smaller funding bodies, and those that are new to research funding) the guidance on requirements may be less clear. If you are uncertain, don’t assume that no requirements will apply - check with your research office, or with any colleagues that have worked with that funder before.

For more information, see: