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Making UK research more visible - changes to the rules on deferring research registration and publication

Last updated on 24 Dec 2021

We’re making changes to make research in the UK visible to everyone and to reduce waste and duplication.

From 31 January, the way that you request to defer registration and publication for commercial sensitivity reasons has changed. The new way of working will make sure that trusted information from health and social care research studies is publicly available to the benefit of all, increasing research transparency.

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Publishing limited information

All researchers applying for research ethics approval for clinical trials in the UK should follow best practice by publishing information on an approved registry. Researchers can ask to defer registration when information may be commercially sensitive.

The changes which came in on 31 January, have brought deferral in line with best practice. A deferral agreement will apply to full registration, but researchers will need to upload reduced information in an approved registry. This will make limited information publicly available, while keeping sensitive information confidential. Find out what information should be registered.

Deferral also applies to delaying publication of a full summary on the HRA website. However, we will still publish a reduced record on the research summaries pages.

A new maximum timeline

Deferrals are valid for 12 months. Applicants can still apply to extend their deferral every 12 months. Under the new policy, this is now for a maximum of 30 months after the study ends. When deferral ends, research sponsors must add full information onto the registry, along with the summary of results. The HRA will publish the full research summary on our website.

Requesting deferral for trials using combined review

Combined review with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is now the only way to seek approval for CTIMPs and combined IMP/device trials. This is in the new part of IRAS. Applicants should request deferral using the IRAS question and do not need to email us.

Trials approved through combined review that are not deferred will be automatically registered on ISRCTN Registry, at no cost to the trialists.

Requesting deferral of registration for non-combined review

For studies not using combined review, there is a new email address to request deferrals. Please email deferrals@hra.nhs.uk.

Get in touch

Read more about the new deferral policy.

If you have questions please email us at research.transparency@hra.nhs.uk.

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