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Glossary of terms
Any work which involves collecting information from or about
service users, their relatives and carers and employees of the
council (staff). It includes surveys, focus groups, consultations,
reviews, evaluations, best value audits and student projects. It
does not involve the routine collection of management
An organisation (likely to be the council) taking the primary
responsibility for ensuring:
- the design of the study meets applicable standards
- arrangements are in place for appropriate conduct and
- all the necessary agreements are in place and are
The sponsor is usually but does not have to be, the main funder.
The sponsor might be a local authority, a university or a research
The council officer who is the official point of referral for
all prospective research applicants.
Research approvals group
The body responsible for considering any research proposals that
involves direct or indirect access to service users, their
families, friends or carers. Membership comprises the Research
Co-ordinator and other relevant members of council staff, e.g. Data
Main or principal researcher
The person taking overall responsibility for the design, conduct
and reporting of the study.
Other researchers who, with the main researcher, comprise the
people conducting the study, including field workers.
The person responsible for the management of the researcher(s)
and the research.
Nominated link officer
A named council officer, usually an experienced manager,
appointed to provide a link between the council and the researcher.
This person’s role is to facilitate access to research participants
and to oversee and monitor the progress of the research on behalf
of the council. S/he is not responsible for providing support and
advice about the research itself.
Service users, their relatives and carers and council staff or
contractors engaged by the council who are subjects of the
The written document that defines the research topic,
methodology, timescale and is a plan showing how the research will
be carried out. It accompanies the application form and should also
address the criteria set out in the research proposal guide. Along with the
application form, the proposal must be approved before the research
study can begin.
Intellectual property rights
Ownership of the research will usually reside with the principal
researcher or the research team. For research that has been
commissioned, i.e. funded by an external organisation or group,
depending on the contract, it is possible that the intellectual
property rights will lie with that body. Sponsorship of a piece of
research will not necessarily confer intellectual property rights
on the sponsor.
Research should do no harm to its participants. Occasionally,
however, through no fault of the researcher, distress or harm can
be caused unintentionally. If any responsibility is consequently
moral rather than legal, a decision may need to be made around how
to redress the situation. This may be through the normal council
complaints procedure or otherwise. It is
advisable to plan for such eventualities before the research
Confidentiality is essential in research and researchers should
be aware of data protection legislation and local authority
procedures and requirements for data
Researchers have a responsibility to ensure the interests of the
research participants are respected. The agreement of potential
participants must be sought prior to commencement of the
Consent should be obtained in writing and must be freely given,
based on a full understanding of the purpose of the research and
what will be required of participants. A copy of the consent form
should be provided with the application for approval.
Children and vulnerable adults are unlikely to be able to give
informed consent themselves and researchers will need to address
this issue in the research proposal if it is intended to involve
people who cannot give consent personally.
The researcher has a duty to ensure that sufficient information
is given to enable participants to choose whether they wish to take
part in the research. Participants should be made aware that they
have a right to withdraw from the research at any time and that
exercising this right will in no way affect the level or quality of
services they receive.
Participant information sheets
Prior to starting the research, an information leaflet needs to
be produced and this must be given to all participants before
seeking their agreement to take part in the research.
As a minimum this information sheet should include:
- what the research is about
- the researcher’s name and contact details
- how and why the participant was selected
- how to withdraw from the research
- how to complain
- what information will be gathered
- what the information will be used for
- what will happen to any information, e.g. interview tapes,
questionnaires etc. after the research has been completed.
It should also be in the participant's own language and be
accessible to people with disabilities and include braille