Guidance for external researchers

All external researchers1 who wish to recruit University of Oxford staff or students as participants in research studies are required to seek permission to do so via the following process.


  1. Permission to advertise and recruit

Advertising and recruitment should not begin until the following permissions have been obtained, as appropriate.

  • If the research study is being advertised on posters in University/college noticeboards, the researcher(s) must first obtain the appropriate local approval to advertise there (eg from the appropriate college(s) or University department or faculty). 2
  • If the research is targeting a specific group of Oxford staff or students (eg students taking a particular course, specific student societies or groups), again the researcher(s) must first obtain the relevant approval, eg from the college, the student society or course director, Student Welfare and Support Services, or Oxford University Student Union (Oxford SU), to approach the group as appropriate. This applies to any form of research involving such groups (eg focus group discussions, online surveys, interviews etc.).
  • Any poster should include a reference to the ethics committee which reviewed and approved the researcher’s study.
  • Separate NHS permissions are required if a researcher is advertising on hospital premises or notice boards.


  1. Submit request to Oxford ethics committee

The external researcher should then email the relevant University of Oxford ethics committee (either the Social Sciences and Humanities Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee ( or the Medical Sciences Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee ( sending the following information:

  • evidence of having obtained the appropriate permissions (see 1. above) to advertise and recruit within the University of Oxford;
  • justification for why University of Oxford staff and/or students need to be recruited for the study;
  • a copy of the ethics application form submitted to the researcher’s ethics committee;
  • details of the intended recruitment method(s), including study-specific documents such as participant information sheets, consent forms, posters etc, which should include reference to which ethics committee has reviewed and approved the study;
  • a copy of the ethical approval from the researcher’s institution’s ethics committee; and
  • assurance that suitable insurance arrangements are in place as the University of Oxford will not be liable for the research.

Upon review and approval of the above, the relevant Oxford ethics committee can provide a letter to the researcher(s) stating that the proposed research has been judged as meeting appropriate ethical standards. However, it should be noted that any such letter will not constitute ethical approval of the study and Oxford will not undertake a separate ethical review of the research. Rather it is intended to provide confirmation that the research is to be conducted to the same ethical standard as those expected of University of Oxford staff and students. The letter will also make clear that in the case of any queries, advice should be sought from the relevant institution’s research ethics committee.


1 External researchers are those who are not students of the University, not employees of the University or its colleges, and who are not formally collaborating with University staff or students.

2 Please see the University of Oxford website for a list of colleges and a list of departments.