Research Ethics Committees (RECs) review research applications and give an opinion about whether the research is ethical. They look at areas such as the proposed participant involvement and are entirely independent of research sponsors (that is, the organisations which are responsible for the management and conduct of the research), funders and investigators. This enables them to put participants at the centre of their review. 

For most applicants to the Health Research Authority (HRA), the REC review forms part of the overall HRA Approval process. For some projects that do not require HRA Approval, such as research tissue banks and research databases, or research taking place outside the NHS such as Phase 1 trials in healthy volunteers, REC review may still be required. 

This section describes the REC review process, whether this is part of HRA Approval or stand-alone.