Applying for ethical approval for research: the main issues

Nurs Stand. 2016 Jan 13;30(20):40-4. doi: 10.7748/ns.30.20.40.s46.


The need to obtain research ethical approval is common to all research involving human participants. This approval must be obtained before research participants can be approached and before data collection can begin. The process of ethical review is one way that research participants can be confident that possible risks have been considered, minimised and deemed acceptable. This article outlines some of the main issues researchers should consider when planning an application for research ethical approval by answering the following six questions: 'Do I need research ethical approval?', 'How many applications will I need to make?', 'Where should I apply for research ethical approval?', 'What do I need to include in my application?', 'What do research ethics committees look for?' and 'What other approvals might I need?' Answering these questions will enable researchers to navigate the ethical review process.

Keywords: ethical approval; ethics; governance; informed consent; research; research ethics.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Ethical Review / standards*
  • Ethics Committees, Research*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Research Design
  • United Kingdom