The authority of a REC should be delegated through the research organisation’s (RO) usual governance mechanisms. It should report to the appropriate RO authority. In defining a REC’s mandate and authority, the organisation should make clear the jurisdiction of a REC and its relationship to other relevant bodies or authorities both within and outside the RO.

ROs should ensure that there is a principal REC for their organisation, but may establish secondary RECs (for example faculty, school or department-based) if required. Where more than one REC is established, the area of responsibility of each should be clear; it would normally be defined by an area of substantive and methodological expertise. There should be clear procedures to establish the relationship between RECs and to facilitate co-operation and common standards, including arrangements to escalate deliberations to a principal REC where necessary.

Secondary RECs that comprise members from only one discipline or a small number of closely related disciplines may be regarded as too closely aligned with the interests of researchers; ROs should therefore ensure the independence of these RECs and transparency of their procedures and decisions. Principal RECs should also be wholly independent and impartial and are likely to be multidisciplinary, and apart from the requirement of at least one external member could include individuals from outside the RO, as well as those with the requisite skills and experience to evaluate more complex and ambitious research proposals. Principal RECs are also likely to be more broadly based, leaving the work of reviewing proposals to RECs in faculties, schools or departments and to concentrate on policy matters and oversight of the secondary RECs.