Good research practice

The HRB expects all of the researchers that we fund, both clinical and non-clinical, to adhere to the highest standards of research practice and integrity in the conduct of their work. For all grant-related policies please find out more here. 

This section details how the HRB alligns and contributes to national and international practice in a number of key areas:

Research involving animals helps to enhance our understanding of human, animal and environmental health and biology. It raises many complex issues for example, ethics, animal welfare, transparency, reproducibility and translation.

The European Union Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes was issued to ensure harmonised standards of animal welfare across the EU, whilst maintaining Europe’s place as a world leader in scientific research. This legislation was transposed into Irish law in December 2012 by SI No 543 of 2012 and is implemented by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the competent authority in Ireland responsible for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.

It is important to ensure the principles embedded in the legal text are implemented in practice. In particular, the Directive imposes a clear and explicit obligation on licensed researchers to ensure that the opportunities for reduction, replacement and refinement of animal involvement (See principles of the 3Rs - Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) are intrinsic to their work.  Researchers are expected to adhere to the general principles and best practice outlined in the guidance provided by the HPRA and are advised to consult the ARRIVE guidelines (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) produced by the UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

The HRB has worked with Science Europe and other like-minded funders and stakeholders across Europe to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring responsible research involving animals.


An initiative is underway in Ireland termed Corporate Enabling of Clinical Research which is aimed at identifying and assisting in resolving governance, legal and insurance challenges of clinical research for institutions. This initiative is being driven by a group whose membership comprises experts involved in research support, legal, contracts, insurance and governance from institutions including Clinical Research Development Ireland, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, the Health Research Board and Enterprise Ireland.

Six working groups have been established:

  1. Governance & Leadership

  2. Sponsorship

  3. Insurance

  4. Contracts

  5. Budgets

  6. Clinician Engagement and Support


The HRB believes that research integrity is intrinsic to research quality, utility and excellence and is committed to preserving and enhancing best practices in Irish research. A strong culture of research integrity is vital for HRB research since it is at the core of science itself. It is a basis for scientists to trust in each other as well as in the scientific record, and equally importantly, it is the basis of society’s trust in science. With public investment in research comes responsibility – the responsibility to spend the Irish taxpayers money wisely, and the responsibility to ensure the quality and integrity of the outputs of research.


National Research Integrity Forum

In the past decade, challenges to research integrity have emerged from academic career structures, competition for research funding, technological advances, new publishing methods and a greater desire for transparency as articulated by the Open Science agenda. Increasing cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-border research has added to the complexities.

Responsibility for ensuring good practices extends beyond researchers and their institutions to national regulators, funding agencies, publishers and industry. This is why the HRB and other Irish funding agencies have come together with universities and other RPOs to form theNational Research Integrity Forum, which is working to implement a National Policy on Ensuring Integrity in Irish research.

The National Forum has taken on the challenge of making research integrity part of the culture of scientific endeavour in Ireland and broadening the debate to include the whole research community.

Specific activities of the National Forum include:

  • Annual public seminar with international speakers to explore specific themes
  • Launch of EPIGEUM, a national online subscription to training modules in Research Integiry and Ethics
  • Changes to the terms and conditions of HRB funding to reflect the National Policy, and also the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

All funders want to make the most of their funding, to achieve their strategic goals. However, good intentions are not enough – a process that is not carefully designed allows waste to occur. In 2014 Iain Chalmers, Paul Glazious and others published a seminal series of articles in the Lancet which identified potential sources of waste for research funders. Following their logic, efforts to combat waste and ensure value in research can be grouped under five pillars:

Pillar 1

Are research decisions based on questions relevant to users of research

Pillar 2

Appropriate research design, methods and analysis

Pillar 3

Efficient research regulation and management

Pillar 4

Fully accessible research information

Pillar 5

Unbiased and visible research reports


Everything in the Policies and Principles section of this website is part of the HRB’s endeavour to ensure value and avoid waste in research. We also working with a global group of funders who share these concerns, the Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Forum. Together we aim to come up with new solutions and ensure our processes are efficient. The Forum formed in 2017, with currently 24 members from eight countries. They range from large state funding agencies such as NIHR (UK), ZonMW (Netherlands), the Italian Ministry of Health or PCORI (US) to small research funding charities.


Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Forum Consensus statement

As organisations that fund health-related research, represent funders, or set funding policy, we believe that we have a responsibility not just to seek to advance knowledge, but also to advance the practices of health-related research and research funding. Therefore, we commit to working together and with our respective research communities to share current and develop new approaches to increase the value of health-related research. We commit to transparency in this process, including evaluating our progress and the impact of our efforts. This will contribute to improvement in the health and lives of all peoples, everywhere.

Along with other relevant activity in the wider research landscape (e.g.the REWARD statement) we understand that as funders we will maximise the value of research we fund when:

  • we set justifiable research priorities;
  • we require robust research design, conduct and analysis;
  • we seek to ensure that research regulation and management are proportionate to risks;
  • we seek to ensure that complete information on research methods and findings from studies is accessible and usable.

Increasing value will require collaborative efforts among funders, regulators, commercial organisations, publishers, editors, researchers, research organisations, research users and others.


The HRB are acutely aware of the importance of public and patient involvement and engagement in the Irish health research landscape and are dedicated to improving PPI nationally. Find out more here.