Permission and approval

Social Care Research Ethics Committee?

The Social Care Research Ethics Committee (SCREC) was established following the implementation of the Research Governance Framework to social care research in England. It was designed to address gaps in provision, and to complement – not duplicate – the work of other RECs. The SCREC is available to review any research that involves adult social care service users, their carers or relatives, and staff providing those services.

The SCREC website sets out the following principles for the type of studies that the committee expects to review:

  1. Social care studies funded by Department of Health.
    • Research commissioned directly through the Policy Research Programme.
    • Information Centre (IC) studies (i.e. those to be designed by IC, for implementation by Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities, who do not then individually need to seek additional review).
    • Studies commissioned by or through National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research.
    • Social care studies funded (in rare cases) through NIHR.
    • Social care research commissioned directly by DH policy customers.
  2. Social care research that involves people lacking capacity. In England, these MUST be reviewed by a recognised Appropriate Body under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Social Care REC is recognised by the Secretary of State for this purpose. (University RECs cannot review research involving adults lacking capacity.) This includes service evaluations that are ‘intrusive’ as defined under the Act.
  3. Social care research that involves sites in England and another United Kingdom country.
  4. ‘Own account’ research undertaken by Councils with social services responsibilities, where the Chief Investigator feels there are substantial ethical issues.
  5. Studies where investigators do not have access to other review systems. This could include service user-led research. Investigators can contact the Coordinator at SCIE for guidance around their specific proposal.

You can apply to the Social Care Research Ethics Committee using IRAS (the Integrated Research Application System), which is described in more detail in our guidance on applying for NHS Research Ethics Approval. You can find out more specifically about the SCREC system through the guidance on applications on their web pages. The key points to note are as follows:

  • Decisions are made at committee meetings, which are held approximately 10 times per year.
  • You will be invited to attend the committee meeting, or to be available by phone (there is only one committee, based in London, unlike the NHS RECs which are spread across the country).
  • The SCREC works to the same 60 calendar day system as the NHS Research Ethics Committees – aiming to complete the review process within that period. But remember, the 60 days does not include the time you take to respond to the committee’s feedback (the clock ‘stops’ after their initial response to you, and starts again only when they receive your response) – so in practice, the process is likely to take longer than 60 days.

Beyond those specific points, please follow our guidance on applying for ethics approval.