Research Governance Framework

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: What are Intellectual Property Rights?

Answer: Ownership of the research usually resides with the principal researcher or the research team. For research that has been commissioned (ie funded by an external organization or group), depending on the contract, it is possible that the Intellectual Property Rights may lie with that body. Sponsorship of a piece of research will not necessarily confer rights on the sponsor.

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Question: What does the council regard as research?

Answer: ‘Research’ is regarded as any study, survey or consultation intended to gather information, which involves access to people in contact with public or community services, either directly or indirectly. This includes collecting information from or about the users of council services, their relatives, carers and any employees of the council. It includes surveys, focus groups, consultations, reviews, evaluations, audits, and student projects.

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Question: Who is regarded as the principal or main researcher?

Answer: The principal or main researcher is the person designated as taking overall responsibility for the design, conduct and reporting of the study will be regarded as the researcher in charge. This is usually the applicant for consent to proceed with research.

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Question: Who will organize access to research participants if I want to conduct research?

Answer: A nominated manager within the council or a perhaps a local “sponsor” should be identified. A local sponsor will be a named council officer, usually an experienced manager, who agrees to provide a link between the council and the researcher. This person's role is to facilitate access to research participants and to oversee and monitor the progress of the research on behalf of the council. They are NOT required to provide support and advice about the research itself.

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Question: What does a research sponsor do?

Answer: A sponsor is an organisation or a person within that organisation who will take primary responsibility for ensuring that:
-the design of the study meets required standards,
-that arrangements are in place to ensure appropriate conduct and reporting, and,
-that all the necessary agreements are in place and are documented.
The sponsor can be the main funder. The sponsor might also be the local authority, a university or a research foundation. Local Authorities are automatically a sponsor or co-sponsor of research that involves service users, their families, and carers and the local authority’s staff. In practice, the sponsor or co-sponsor will be the local manager who has agreed to support the research project and provide access.


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Question: Who is regarded as the research supervisor?

Answer: There must be a person who is responsible for the management of the researcher(s) and the research. For a student, it is usually a tutor at the university where they are studying, but it could be other researchers or research organisations, tutors or suitably qualified peers.

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Question: Who else will need to be named in an application?

Answer: The other participants in the research who need to be identified are the research team. These will be other researchers who, with the Principal Researcher, comprise the people conducting the study and includes field workers and others who will be handling or processing information about participants.

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Question: What is a research proposal?

Answer: A research proposal is a written document that defines the subject of the research, the methodology, timescales and plans that show how the research will be carried out. It accompanies the application form and should also address the criteria set out in the Research Proposal Guide. The proposal and the application must be approved before the research can begin, but the council recognises that the detail and complexity required of research proposals needs to be proportionate to the scale of the project.

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Question: What about Data Protection?

Answer: Confidentiality is essential in research and researchers should be aware of data protection legislation and local authority procedures and requirements for data protection.

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Question: What information do we expect participants be given?

Answer: An information sheet including:

What the research is about
The researchers name and contact details
How and why the participant was selected
How to withdraw from the research
How to complain
What information will be gathered
What the information will be used for
What will happen to any information (eg: interview tapes; questionnaires etc) after the research has been completed

It should be in the participants own language and be accessible to people with disabilities.

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Question: What is informed consent?

Answer: Researchers have a responsibility to ensure the interests of the research participants are protected and respected. The agreement of potential participants must be sought prior to commencement of that research. Consent should be obtained in writing and must be freely given based on a full understanding of the purpose of the research and what will be required of participants. A copy of the consent form should be provided with the application for approval. The researcher has a duty to ensure that sufficient information is given to enable participants to choose whether they wish to take part in the research. Participants should be made aware that they have a right to withdraw from the research at any time and that exercising that right will in no way affect the level or quality of services they receive.
Children and vulnerable adults are unlikely to be able to give informed consent themselves and researchers will need to address this issue in the research proposal. There are special requirements and national frameworks for seeking research approval where it is possible that participants will not have mental capacity to give informed consent. Importantly, any proposed research that involves people who lack capacity must be discussed with the council’s lead manager for research governance at the earliest opportunity, to avoid delays and the making of an inappropriate application.


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Question: Who decides if a proposal is acceptable?

Answer: The approval process is delegated to the lead manager for the RGF, who will deal with non-complex or straightforward applications. Most applications will be peer reviewed to ensure that the lead manager is applying standards properly. When required, a panel is convened from a pool of experts including the council's information guardian, managers from care services, practitioners, services users and partners in the NHS and other partner organisations.

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Question: What happens to research when it is completed?

Answer: Applicants are asked to supply a finished copy of their research findings. The Research Governance Framework panel collates all approved research, to inform future research and improve services. Managers in the sponsor organisation also receive copies.

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Question: Who do I contact if I am thinking about doing research?

Answer: The lead manager for the council’s RGF is the official point of contact for discussing research and making an application. Please contact the Research Governance Lead.

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Question: I’m a student: how can I find out what research the council will support?

Answer: If a researcher is not clear on what to research, for example they have to undertake a student project and are not clear about a suitable topic, the council’s lead manager for research governance can be contacted to discuss the council’s research needs.

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