Plan your sites

It is vital to the success of your project that you collaborate with potential sites at the earliest possible opportunity to consider how and where participants will be identified, recruited and take part in your project. You will need to consider whether:

  • the organisations can identify a suitable number of potential participants
  • the staff have the relevant skills, expertise and time
  • the organisations have appropriate equipment and facilities

Different organisations can be involved in different parts of the project. You may need to conduct the research at sites with access to particular equipment or skills. You should consider whether such sites will be able to identify the required number of participants meeting your eligibility criteria, or whether you should work with other organisations to identify potential participants. You may want to consider using Participant Identification Centres.

Details of participating sites should be entered into your application in part C of your IRAS project.


NHS sites

The Chief Investigator or sponsor should approach local research teams and their R&D office to discuss interest in participating in a study at an early stage, and to assess suitability of the site, preferably prior to making regulatory applications. The clinical research networks may be able to assist you in identifying suitable NHS sites if your study meets the criteria for using their support.

You can find contact details for R&D staff at NHS organisations on the NHS R&D Forum.

The Chief Investigator or sponsor should ensure that each NHS organisation is provided with any necessary information and documentation needed to set up the study and confirm management permission. The information you will need to submit to participating sites may vary and will depend on the type of study, and the location of the site.

More information on setting up NHS sites in England can be found in the section on HRA Approval.

More information on setting up NHS/HSC sites in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland can be obtained by contacting the R&D permissions coordinating function for that nation. Contact details can be found here.


Non-NHS sites

Separate sections of this site provide information about processes for non-NHS sites and Site Specific Assessments of these sites.

Please note that it is the responsibility of the sponsor and Chief Investigator to ensure that local research teams have all the relevant documents to conduct the study, including the current version of the protocol.


Adding new research sites

For guidance on adding new research sites to a project after approvals have been given please refer to the information in Resources.