Research Governance Framework (RGF)

The Research Governance Framework (RGF) sets out standards that all research using vulnerable children and adult information should meet.

It aims to ensure that the interests of our service users are always put first and that the research makes a real contribution to increasing knowledge and improving practice. The governance process provides a defined quality assurance mechanism for ensuring that all research taking place using vulnerable children and adult meets legal, ethical and quality requirements.

Research governance can be defined as the broad range of regulations, principles and standards of good practice that exist to achieve and continuously improve research quality across all aspects of health and social care. Proper governance of research is essential to ensure there can be confidence and derived benefits from quality research, and that high scientific, ethical and financial standards, transparent decision-making processes, clear allocation of responsibilities and robust monitoring arrangements are in place.

It is a core standard for health and social care organisations to have systems to ensure the principles and requirements of the Research Governance Framework are consistently applied. Health and social care organisations have to take this standard into account in discharging their duty of quality under Section 45 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003.

Why do we need it?

We receive great interest from prospective researchers, including research by students as part of their academic studies, government-funded research projects and research proposed by voluntary and charitable organisations. In the last two years the council received approximately 40 research proposal applications. These included research projects to examine 'When ‘Care' Leads to Custody and Evaluation of Addaction’s ‘First Steps’ project etc.

The RGF Guidance provides a quality assurance mechanism for managing research and defines clear standards and procedures of good practice to enable the council to make sound and robust decisions concerning the research conducted in Tower Hamlets. The Framework outlines guidance for ensuring research meets legal, ethical and scientific standards but also to maximise learning and reduce risks for researchers, participants and any potential arising risks which may affect the council.

How does it work?

Anyone wanting to conduct research in Tower Hamlets using vulnerable children or adults need to complete and submit the RGF Research proposal form (contained within the RGF Application forms) along with supporting documentation to the Intelligence and Performance Service by emailing to

Upon receipt of an application, a risk assessment is conducted and the associated papers are distributed to a panel of core members. The risk assessment and other papers are reviewed by a core research governance panel. In the case of a low risk research application, a meeting is held by the RGF coordinator and Senior Intelligence and Performance Manager to discuss the application and any concerns are raised and addressed and a decision taken to approve, modify or reject the research proposal.

If the research is considered to be of medium or high risk, the application is sent to the core panel members. In some cases specialists with subject matters are invited to guide the decision making. The panel will discuss the proposal and identify and address any areas of concern. The panel will reach a decision to approve, modify or reject a research proposal.

What do you need to do?

Download the RGF Guidance which fully explains the background to the framework, what is required from researchers and how the process works.

Read the Council’s RGF Information Pack for Applicants and complete a research proposal form and Risk Assessment. The completed forms and attachments should be sent either to the email address or by post.

Guidance from central government is contained in:

View the Department of Health's "Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care".