By Charlotte Coates, Head of Research Funds, The Scar Free Foundation

Published: 14 September 2022

As research funders, and distributers of charitable funds, we must ensure that responsible practices are embedded throughout our research funding cycles and that we work collaboratively to set expectations about the environment our research takes place in.

Being accountable

As an AMRC charity, our primary responsibility is to the people experiencing the condition we focus on. Patients and people with lived experience should be at the heart of all our activities and it’s paramount to enable their voices throughout our work.

Responsible funding begins with identifying meaningful research priorities that are of the utmost benefit to patients. It also means assessing and managing grants fairly and effectively; ensuring research is robust and well-designed; progressing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI); making sure funding recipients are free from harm, mistreatment, and harassment; minimising environmental impact and research waste; and maximising the reproducibility of research.

At The Scar Free Foundation we use AMRC’s EDI Resource Hub to help us progress Equity Diversity and Inclusion; we embed the principles of sustainability internally and externally; we consult AMRC’s guidance on addressing bullying and harassment in the research environment; and we advocate for the broadest dissemination of our research, using the AMRC Open Research platform and mandating the publication of the unsuccessful research we fund.

In comparison to many AMRC charities we’re small (currently a full-time team of three), and as such, it’s important for us to access external sources of best practice and to learn from other organisations.

Learning from others

Since 2017, we've been members of the Ensuring Value in Research Funders Forum (EViR) an international group of over 40 statutory and charity funders including the National Institute for Health and Care Research, ZonMW (Netherlands), and the National Institutes of Health (USA). The Forum’s Guiding Principles, learning from other funders, and gaining an international perspective have been invaluable in helping us to increase the value of our research.

Access to the AMRC’s guidance has also been integral to our grant operations and research policies. Without the ability to regularly network and learn from colleagues in much larger charities, with much greater resources than our own, it would be hard to evolve our funding practices and keep abreast of developments within the sector.

We're also grateful for the advice and guidance provided by the Shared Learning Group on Involvement and the Charities Research Involvement Group which have helped us to grow and develop our involvement strategy across the organisation.


Responsible funding is about constant evolution and moving with changing times. Facing outward into the world and avoiding silos.  

Delivering our respective research priorities cannot be something that happens in a vacuum. It needs to be done through mutual collaboration between AMRC members, not only in the development and sharing of responsible funding practices, but also using our strength as a group to mandate the kind of environment we want our research to take place in.