'A research ethics committee is a group of people appointed to review research proposals to assess formally if the research is ethical. This means the research must conform to recognised ethical standards, which includes respecting the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of the people who take part' (Governance arrangements for research ethics committees, May 2011).
This website will give you information about the purpose of the Social Care REC, how you can apply for research ethics review, and who to contact for further help.
The Social Care REC meets monthly, and is expected to deliver an opinion to applicants applying for ethical review within 60 days of receiving a valid application.
The Social Care REC reviews adult social care research study proposals, intergenerational studies involving adults and children or families, use of social care databases and some proposals for social science studies situated in the NHS (see item 6 below), from researchers based in England. The Social Care REC was developed with support from the National Research Ethics Service (NRES), which, in 2011, became part of the new Health Research Authority (HRA). Although social care is not yet part of the HRA’s remit, the Social Care REC continues to be supported by NRES, uses their application system and audit standards, and, for studies within the REC's remit (see below), is recognised by Dept of Health as equivalent to other NRES committees. However, the membership, expertise and perspectives of the Social Care REC have been developed to reflect the social care context.
The Appointing Authority is the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). Committee members, recruited through open advertisement, include researchers, ethicists, providers and users of social care.
The Social Care REC reviews applications involving the adult social care sector (e.g. in local authority, private and voluntary care settings), as well as studies which cross sector boundaries. The REC reviews:
Social care research does not require review by the Social Care REC if it is reviewed by another committee operating in accordance with the ESRC's Framework for Research Ethics, unless sections 1 or 9 above apply or the research involves NHS patients or service users as research participants. A review is required if there is a legal requirement for REC review e.g. under the Mental Capacity Act. Student research within the field of social care should ordinarily be reviewed by a University REC (UREC). If a UREC review is not available to a student, they can contact the Co-ordinator for advice.
The Social Care REC does not consider any research involving clinical interventions. Such research should be reviewed by another appropriate REC within the NRES.
NHS R&D officers will come across social science studies reviewed by the Social Care REC (under item 6 above) when investigators apply for research governance approval. The opinion given by Social Care REC has the same authority as that of any other NRES REC. Such applications do not require separate review by other NRES RECs.
All applications to the Social Care REC should be prepared using IRAS.
It should be noted that the Social Care REC operates to a wider interpretation of 'research' than may apply in the NHS. For example, most service evaluations would be accepted as suitable for review by the Social Care REC. Investigators and sponsors may have a number of reasons for seeking REC review (such as vulnerable participants; wanting advice on consent procedures; ability to reassure publications editors).
Researchers unsure about their options for review should seek guidance from the Social Care REC Co-ordinator. The Social Care REC meets in Central London, but has a national remit.