Ethical review of research funders

The University conducts ethical reviews of research grant funding (that is, funding for conducting research, not for standalone events or training).

This process seeks to:

  • Ensure that researchers are impartial and independent in their association with research funders.
  • Determine if there are any ethical risks associated with a funder.
  • Ensure research funding aligns with the University strategy and commitment to social responsibility.

Only once your application is approved can you receive research grant funding from the funder.

The application and review process

Check the approved funders list

Researchers (and FAS) must check the current ethical review of research funders - approved funders list (PDF):

  • If the funder is on the list under the ‘in perpetuity’ or ‘reviewed every five years’ category: no further action is required.
  • If the funder is not on the list: an ethical funder review application must be submitted.

Complete and submit an application form

Researchers should complete the ethical review of research funders - application form (Word) and email it to with the subject heading ‘Ethical funder application’.

When completing the form:

  • Consider the potential issues or implications of accepting funding from this source – conducting a quick internet search for news and information, particularly any incidents or controversy, associated with the funder may help inform your application.
  • The signature page must be sent with either electronic signatures inserted into the form or attached as a scanned copy.
  • Note that applications can be made public under a Freedom of Information request.

Review and outcomes

The UTREC office checks the application form for completeness before sending to the review sub-committee. The sub-committee review the application and decide whether the application is approved or not.

If approved the funder can be added to one of two categories:

  1. ‘in perpetuity’ category
  2. ‘reviewed every five years’ category

If a funder is listed in one of these categories, then no further ethical funder review applications need be submitted.

Other review outcomes:

  • The funder is approved on a one-off basis, which means a new application must be submitted for each new instance of funding.
    • such approvals may also be subject to conditions specified by the sub-committee.
  • The funder is not approved, either for a specific project or at all.
  • The sub-committee requests (via the UTREC office) further information from the applicant to complete the review and reach a decision.

Notification of outcome

The outcome of the review is:

  • usually returned within 3-5 working days (but may take longer in busy periods or complex cases where additional information is required).
  • communicated to the applicant via email, with an approval letter confirming the outcome and any conditions.
  • copied to the applicant’s Head of School, Director of Research and School FAS contact.

Approval letters:

  • must be kept as part of your project paperwork.
  • should be included alongside other ethical approval documents in your thesis (if you are a student).

Review sub-committee role and remit

Ethical review of research funders is undertaken by a sub-committee of UTREC which is empowered to approve, deny, and categorise a research funder. This includes changing the category of or removing funders from the list at any time.

In addition to reviewing individual applications, the sub-committee: 

  • Reviews funders in the ‘reviewed every five years’ category at the specified time.
  • Undertakes an annual review of the policies and processes relating to ethical research funding review.
  • Reports annually to UTREC, summarising applications and review outcomes.
    • UTREC members can raise a concern about a funder or their categorisation. These will be addressed to and by the sub-committee in writing.
  • Provides data for UTREC’s annual report to the Audit and Risk Committee.