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HRA project hopes to help student researchers get it right first time

Last updated on 12 Jun 2018

A HRA working group has been considering how we can best support student research.  

Almost 40 per cent of research applications we receive are made by students, many of whom have never applied for HRA Approval before. 

By supporting students to get it right first time, we can speed up study set-up for them and our other stakeholders, therefore enabling research to happen quicker.

Amanda Hunn

“While the project has many elements, with plans for resources such as eLearning modules to support students and their supervisors, we want to begin by raising awareness of guidance that is already available.

“The UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research sets out what good research looks like and there are a number of elements within it that relate to student research, which can be of benefit to those who are preparing to submit study applications to the HRA.

“For example, the framework states that universities should normally act as the sponsor for research undertaken by their own students, ensuring that responsibility for the initiation and management of research does not unduly fall to the NHS.

“Students undertaking courses that are not primarily related to health and social care, who wish to undertake research involving patients or service users, their data or tissue, or the public in a health or social care setting, should have a co-supervisor with relevant experience to help them understand the care context and the associated research process.

“However, we would generally discourage undergraduate researchers from conducting research involving patients at all, with the framework outlining a preference for supervisors and course leaders to develop and lead research projects that individual students at master’s level and below can contribute to at different stages.

“Yet this comes with the strong caveat that the contribution of students to the development, conduct and reporting of the research should be appropriately acknowledged, as the focus of this project is for us to support students to submit good quality applications, ultimately enabling them to conduct and contribute to good quality research.”

Amanda Hunn, HRA Joint Head of Policy

More detailed information can be found in the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research

If you have any feedback or queries about how the HRA supports student research, please email

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