Permission and approval

Institutional requirements

Every institution has its own specific requirements in relation to research activity. Whether you are working in a university or another research organisation, or in a central or local government department, it is likely that your organisation will have established requirements or procedures that you have to follow across the research process.

There are some common themes and principles – which we have set out in this section – but beyond this overview, you need to check with the relevant department or member of staff in your own institution:

If you are an employee you should check with:

  • your line manager or head of department; and
  • your research office (which might have another name, such as ‘research services’, ‘research admin’, or ‘quality assurance department’).

If you are a student, you should check with:

  • your supervisor; and/or
  • the tutor for your programme of study (e.g. the postgraduate tutor for your department or faculty).

Institutional requirements range across the research process. For example, there are often requirements for:

  • internal peer review before your proposal is submitted;
  • approval of project costing (your institution or department may have a finance officer or manager who will check and advise on this);
  • formal risk assessment (this may be done at the proposal stage, or after funding is agreed);
  • employment procedures, if you are paying anyone to work on your project (even if very part-time, such as doing a bit of data entry); and
  • approval by the organisation’s press office of any press releases reporting on findings from your study.

In essence, these requirements are there because your institution faces risk in hosting a research project – not least in terms of the financial viability of the work and its quality (and the implications for the institution’s reputation). Some requirements are set by external bodies such as funders or regulators (e.g. organisational auditors or insurers), some are required in law, and some are just good practice.

For more information, see: