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ESRC Framework for Research Ethics

The framework sets out the ESRC's policy on research ethics

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Rebecca Ferguson
22 April 2010

As the principal funding agency for UK social science research, the ESRC requires that the research it supports be designed and conducted in such a way that it meets certain ethical principles and is subject to proper professional and institutional oversight in terms of research governance.

The ESRC Research Ethics Framework (now renamed Framework for Research Ethics) was formally introduced in January 2006.  The framework sets out ESRC's policy on research ethics and provides guidance on ethical scrutiny appropriate to social science research.  It was created because, although the Council, learned societies and others already provided general guidance in regard to these matters, there was a clear need to extend and develop best practice in response to the growing complexity and demands made of research and researchers today.  ESRC has made it clear that the framework is a ‘living’ document which the Council is committed to developing over time, taking into account the experiences of the ESRC and research organisations as well as future challenges arising from the wider ethics environment. 

The framework has been subject to a wide ranging consultation and  a revised version has now been released (2010).  Changes in legislation, advances in technology and responses to the consultation were considered by the office and a small advisory panel who made recommendations to the ESRC Council on the necessary changes to the framework.  The Framework for Research Ethics (FRE) includes ESRC’s six core principles regarding research ethics and how to implement them, the ESRC’s minimum requirements for researchers and research organisations and details various aspects of research ethics.

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