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Important information about the Research Passport

Before you can be considered for appointment in a position of trust within the NHS, each NHS organisation needs to be satisfied about your character and suitability. The law requires the NHS to promote equality of opportunities and to treat all applicants for positions fairly and on merit regardless of age, disability, gender, race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, belief, or sexual orientation. The NHS shall not discriminate unfairly against applicants on the basis of any criminal conviction or other information declared.

Prior to making a final decision concerning your application, each NHS organisation should discuss with you any information declared by you that it believes has a bearing on your suitability for the position. If any information is not raised with you, this is because the NHS organisation believes that it should not be taken into account. In that event, you remain free to discuss any of that information or any other matter that you wish to raise. As part of assessing your application, the NHS organisation will take into account any relevant criminal record and other information declared.

In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 you are advised that your personal data will be processed by each NHS organisation to which you submit the Research Passport. In completing and submitting the Research Passport you are deemed to have given consent to processing personal data about you. Processing includes: holding, obtaining, recording, using, sharing and deleting information. The Data Protection Act 1998 defines ‘sensitive personal data’ as including ethnic origin, physical or mental health, commission or alleged commission of offences and any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed.

The information that you provide in this Research Passport will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, and may also be used for the purpose of determining your application for this position. It may also be used for the purpose of enquiries in relation to the prevention and detection of fraud. Once a decision has been made concerning your appointment, for successful applicants the Research Passport will be retained on their personal file; if unsuccessful, the Research Passport will be destroyed one month after receipt of the application. This form will be kept securely and in confidence, and access to it will be restricted to designated persons within the NHS organisation who are authorised to view it as a necessary part of their work.

While conducting research in the organisation, all researchers should comply with NHS organisation policies relating to safety and confidentiality. These may include the following:

  • incident reporting
  • research governance
  • misconduct and fraud
  • data storage and handling

Your local Trust manager will be able to provide you with these policies.

Section 1: Details of Researcher

To be completed by Researcher.

Question 1

Please state your name and contact details.

Question 2

Please provide basic details about your identity. This information is used to complete the Electronic Staff Record (the NHS HR system).

Question 3

If you are registered with a professional body please give details.

Question 4

Details of your substantive employer should be given.

Please give your job title. NB NHS organisations need to be informed of any changes in employment.

Section 2: Details of Research

To be completed by Researcher.

Question 5

There are two types of Research Passport: the project-specific Research Passport and the three-year Research Passport.

  • The project-specific Research Passport is for researchers who will be involved with only one project over the course of three years. If this is the case please provide details in this section, including the study rec number if known.
  • The three-year Research Passport is for researchers who will be working on a number of studies over the course of three years and have an ongoing research portfolio. Please give details in the Appendix instead of completing this section, including the study rec numbers if known. You may add as many Appendix pages as required. Please number each Appendix page. You should update the Appendix with any new studies and present the updated Research Passport to all relevant NHS R&D offices before commencing the new project.

Either here or in the Appendix, as appropriate, please provide the title, and the start and end dates of the project. The start date should be when you plan to be involved in the study at the first site, and the end date should be when you plan to complete your involvement in the study at the last site. Please list the NHS organisation(s) and department(s) where you will be working. Describe very briefly what activities you will be undertaking, e.g. prescribing medicine, taking blood, conducting behavioural therapy etc. Please ensure that adequate information is provided to enable the Trust to determine which checks are needed and the level of access you are granted. If you know who will manage or supervise you or be responsible for your conduct in the NHS organisation, e.g. the Principal Investigator, please insert her/his name.

If you subsequently find that you need to conduct a study in additional NHS organisations, the details should be added in the Appendix, and the Research Passport should be submitted to the relevant NHS organisation(s).

Section 3: Declaration by Researcher

To be completed by Researcher.

Question 6

Please tell us if you have ever been refused an honorary research contract or had it revoked by an NHS organisation and the reasons for it. Disclosing this information does not necessarily mean that you will be turned down in your application for an honorary research contract or letter of access this time, but it could be that particular training needs have to be addressed by the NHS organisation where you plan to undertake research or your substantive employer.

The Research Passport system relies on information about you in the Research Passport being shared with relevant NHS organisations instead of being duplicated by each NHS organisation. You are required to consent to this information being shared.

Section 4: Suitability of Researcher

To be completed by Researcher's substantive employer, e.g. line manager or head of department.

Question 7

This section should be completed by an appropriate manager from your employer who is responsible for ensuring that you are suitably trained, qualified and experienced to carry out the research. It could be your line manager or head of department.

Training should be commensurate with the nature of the research study and the research environment. Please ask the Principal Investigator or Chief Investigator for the study about your training needs in relation to Good Clinical Practice, data protection, use of equipment etc.

Section 5: Pre-engagement checks

To be completed by the HR department of the Researcher's substantive employer.

This section is for the Human Resources (HR) department of your substantive employer to complete and sign.

Question 8

If the work you will be doing under your Research Passport requires you to have had a DBS check then your employer needs to confirm that you have a DBS check with no convictions or police information listed. The DBS check should have been obtained in the last 6 months. Alternatively, a DBS check obtained in the 12 months may be used, as long as your employer has a system for requiring you to declare any changes to your criminal record. Details of the disclosure should be provided. Your employer will not be asked to pass on any information in your DBS check. Your original copy of the disclosure (not a photocopy) should be provided when you submit the Research Passport to the NHS R&D office.

If you have not had a DBS check conducted in the appropriate time scale, you should arrange for a criminal records disclosure to be obtained through your employer.

If any convictions or police information have been reported in your disclosure, the NHS organisation receiving the Research Passport will need to request a DBS check. This is to ensure that it has relevant and up-to-date information on which to base decisions about issuing an honorary research contract.

Overseas staff/students should endeavour to have the necessary documents to show they do not have any previous convictions in their country of origin. The DBS overseas helpline can provide information on specific countries (0870 010 0450).

Please note that you are required to inform the Compliance Team of any changes in your criminal record that occurred after you applied for your DBS check, whether the DBS check was processed by the University of Cambridge or a previous employer.

Question 9

Your employer must confirm that it completed checks with regard to identity, professional registration status and certificates of qualifications prior to employing/admitting you. It must also verify that you have completed the necessary occupational health assessment (if this is required for the work that you will be doing under your Research Passport) to ensure that you are medically suitable to carry out the research activities you plan to undertake. Your employer should provide written evidence of completion of the following checks:

  • employment screening
    • ID with a photograph
    • two references
    • verification of permission to work/study in the UK
    • exploration of gaps in employment
  • occupational health screening
  • evidence of professional registration
  • evidence of qualifications

See the checklist for submitting a Research Passport application for details of what needs to be submitted to the HR Division for each of these checks. If these are submitted by your Department on your behalf, please ensure that your Department have signed and verified that they are copies of the originals.

The HR Division will take copies of the Research Passport and attachments for its records to provide an auditable system. Please note that, in accordance with DBS check guidance, photocopies of DBS checks are not retained.

Section 6: Instructions to applicants

To be completed by Researcher.

You are now ready to complete your Research Passport application. Indicate here which documents you have attached. If you do not require a DBS check or occupational health screening for the research activities you will be conducting, you should tick ‘Not Applicable’. If you have completed any Appendices, please give the numbers, otherwise tick ‘Not Applicable’.

Submitting the Research Passport

When you have completed the form, obtained all the relevant signatures and collected the relevant documents to accompany your application, you should submit the Research Passport application to the R&D office at the lead NHS organisation where you wish to undertake your research. The lead NHS organisation may be the R&D office that is nearest to you, or the one that you originally approached about the project. You should provide original copies of all documents. You should also provide a synopsis of what your research will involve. The R&D office will complete the shaded sections of the form and take a photocopy for its records. The original Research Passport form and documents will be returned to you. Your honorary research contract or letter of access can now be issued to you by the NHS organisation.

The NHS organisation will take copies of the Research Passport and attachments for its records to provide an auditable system. Please note that, in accordance with DBS check guidance, photocopies of DBS checks are not retained.

Once the shaded part of Section 8 has been completed and the form and documents have been returned to you, you have a complete Research Passport. This Research Passport will be valid for the duration of the project or for three years, as indicated in Section 8. You should keep it safe so that you can use it to apply to any other NHS organisation for an honorary research contract or letter of access.

In some cases it may be necessary to undergo additional screening in one NHS organisation because of the nature of the environment where you will be carrying out research. For example, if you are working with immune-compromised individuals you may have to undergo additional screening in line with the policy of the department in which you will be undertaking research. The R&D office will let you know if you need to have additional checks. Please add the written evidence of these checks to the attachments to your Research Passport. If any additional checks are undertaken by an NHS organisation, this will be documented in Section 7.

To obtain an honorary research contract or letter of access from another NHS organisation listed on your Research Passport, you should submit the valid Research Passport (with the shaded sections completed) and the original documents to the R&D office at that NHS organisation. As before, a photocopy will be taken and an honorary research contract or letter of access issued.


Please ensure that you keep your Research Passport up to date. You should inform any NHS organisation where you are conducting research of any change in details, e.g. employment status, registration status, criminal record etc. Any failure to do so may result in termination of your honorary research contract or letter of access. Additions and amendments to the Research Passport appendix should be countersigned by the relevant R&D office. The R&D office will take a photocopy of any amendments and additions to the Research Passport. You should check that you do not need additional pre-engagement checks if you are taking on an entirely new research activity.