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Our terms, conditions and policies

Requests for research support: terms of reference

NHS Choices can sometimes support other organisations with their research. This document sets out our acceptance criteria.

The types of research we may be able to support include:

  • posting a survey on – surveys are generally designed by the requesting organisation or their delivery partner
  • using the NHS Choices survey invitation banner to invite service users to take part in research organised by external organisations

Acceptance criteria

Any requests for research support will need to conform to the acceptance criteria below.

1. Organisation types

1.1 NHS Choices will only consider requests from:

  • arm's length bodies
  • academic institutions
  • central government departments
  • voluntary sector organisations
  • the NHS

1.2 Requests from commercial organisations that have no public sector element will be rejected. NHS Choices does not have the resources required to conduct a due diligence assessment in these circumstances.

1.3 Where a commercial organisation makes a request that is also supported by a public sector health organisation, we will consider this on its merits.

2. Research quality and content

2.1 Research requests must be relevant to the NHS Choices programme as set out in the service proposition. When you submit your research support request, please outline its relevance to the service propositions and any possible benefits it may bring.

2.2 You'll need to provide a detailed description of the scope of the research that includes:

  • background to the research
  • relevance to the NHS Choices service and its service proposition
  • research objectives
  • research methodology
  • ethics approval (where appropriate)
  • mechanisms in place within the research organisation that protect the anonymity and privacy of those participating in the research
  • research outputs and dissemination

2.3 The above description should be included even where the request is to solely recruit research respondents, as we have a duty of care to site users and need to be reassured that their confidentially is protected.

2.4 The NHS Choices user research lead has the right to comment on the suitability of the research and veto surveys or proposals that do not meet the required standard. Written feedback on the reasons an application is rejected will be provided.

2.5 The NHS Choices user research lead will have the right to comment on or amend any elements of the research instruments (for example, tools for data collection, such as questionnaires) posted on the NHS Choices site.

3. Privacy and data security

3.1 NHS Choices is careful to take appropriate steps to maintain the security of site users' data on our service. The open nature of the internet means data may flow over networks without security measures, and may be accessed and used by people other than those for whom the data is intended.

3.2 All organisations planning to conduct research among our site users will need to have a suitable privacy and data security policy in place to protect site users in the way described above. This policy will need to be included with the request.

4. Resource requirement

4.1 An assessment of the resource required from the NHS Choices team will be made when requests are submitted. Those deemed to need too much resource will be rejected unless there is a clear business need for that project to be supported.

5. Research findings

5.1 Supported organisations will ensure the findings are published and accessible to the public.

5.2 All organisations given this research support will credit the support given by the NHS Choices programme in any report they produce.

5.3 Supported organisations agree to share in writing their findings or report with the NHS Choices programme prior to publication.

6. Availability of this resource

6.1 Our ability to meet these requests is limited. We anticipate we will be able to support a maximum of three requests per year in total.

Summary of the application process

1. Idea submitted

2. Terms of reference sent

3. Worked up request that includes:

  • background to the research
  • relevance to the NHS Choices programme
  • research objectives
  • research methodology
  • ethics approval (where appropriate)
  • mechanisms in place to protect the privacy and anonymity of research participants
  • research outputs and dissemination
  • description of how the NHS Choices contribution will be credited

4. User research lead and NHS Choices programme director or director of data and information vets the request and seeks clarifications or provides comments on the proposal. They will seek advice from subject matter experts, such as the clinical lead or data security lead, as appropriate.

5. If the project is of the required standard, the external organisation and the research team agree on the implementation details.

6. The request to participate in research goes live on the NHS Choices website.

Submitting an application

If you want to submit an application, please email and put "research support" in the subject line.


Page last reviewed: 23/11/2016

Next review due: 23/11/2019