Defence and Security Accelerator: ethical, legal and regulatory guidance

Guidance to consider when submitting a proposal

MOD Research Ethics Committee

All research involving human participation conducted or sponsored by any government department is subject to ethical review under procedures outlined in Joint Service Publication 536 ‘Ministry of Defence Policy for Research Involving Human Participants’ irrespective of any separate ethical procedures (such as from universities or other organisations). This ensures that acceptable ethical standards are met, upheld and recorded, adhering to nationally and internationally accepted principles and guidance.

The following definitions explain the areas of research that require approval:

  • clinical: conducting research on a human participant, including (but not limited to) administering substances, taking blood or urine samples, removing biological tissue, radiological investigations, or obtaining responses to an imposed stress or experimental situation
  • non-clinical: conducting research to collect data on an identifiable individual’s behaviour, either directly or indirectly (such as by questionnaire or observation). All proposals must declare if there are potential ethical issues

Securing ethical approval through this process can take up to 3 months. We, therefore, recommend that you only include research in Phase 1 that doesn’t require ethical approval. Work that might require ethical approval should be planned for future phases of work which have longer and more flexible timescales.

However, if you think that your Phase 1 proposal may require ethical approval, please ensure that you adopt an approach in your submission as follows:

  • Milestone 1: gaining ethics approval for the project, including delivery of the research protocols (the protocol will need to be detailed by completing the ethics application form)
  • Milestone 2: proposed research that will be carried out subject to gaining ethics approval (optional phases to be formally invoked, where appropriate)

A contractual break point must be included after milestone 1.

Read more on the MOD Research Ethics Committee.

The requirement for ethical approval isn’t a barrier to funding; proposals are assessed on technical merit and potential for exploitation. Successful proposals will be supported through the ethical review process; however, an outline of your research methods must be included in your proposal to help this process.

Animal testing

All research involving animal testing conducted or sponsored by Dstl is subject to processes that ensure appropriate ethical review and responsible use of animals by Dstl.

We define ‘involving animal testing’ as:

  • research that at any stage has involved or will involve use of animals in the United Kingdom, regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986
  • research that at any stage has involved or will involve use of animals, conducted outside the United Kingdom, regulated by the relevant competent authority that, if in the United Kingdom, would be regulated by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

This requirement for ethical approval isn’t a barrier to funding. If you think your proposal involves animal testing, please ensure that your proposal highlights this. Proposals of suitable technical merit with the potential for exploitation that include animal testing will be required to provide supplementary information to enable appropriate ethical review to take place. Ethical review will be conducted by moderators with suitable expertise who will consider proposals in the context of the Dstl’s Use of Animals policy.

Proposals will be supported through this process. All contracts that involve animal testing will include break points so that projects containing animal testing that can’t obtain the necessary external licensure within the required timescale (for example a licence as required by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and/or don’t meet the Dstl’s Use of Animals Policy will not proceed.

The Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (2000)/Investigatory Powers Act 2016 considerations

The Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (RIPA)/Investigatory Powers Act 2016 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications.

DASA encourages all bidders to be mindful of legal and ethical considerations particularly where experiments may impact on privacy under Investigatory Powers legislation and obligations under the Data Protection Act. Your proposals must identify and minimise legal risk.

Further details are available in the ‘Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation’ .

Published 21 August 2018