Transparency is one of AMRC's six principles of expert review, which form the foundations of rigour that guide our members’ expert review and funding processes.

Transparency: charities must publish their research strategy and expert review process online so that external audiences can see the rigorous methods used to make research funding decisions, including the names of the experts involved in the decision-making process. It is important that charity funders share transparently how and why animals are used in research. When funding research involving animals, charities must consider the 3Rs through expert review.

Making expert review processes open and accessible helps improve the trust of the public and the scientific community. Publicly and equitably sharing who is involved in the decision-making process, acknowledges the work of all experts involved, demonstrating respect for their time, effort, and knowledge. 

Achieving transparency

The following describes steps that charities can take to meet the principle of transparency.

  • Publish information on the research funded by the charity so that external audiences can see what research, researchers, and institutions the charity supports.

  • Ask for lay abstracts. These can provide clear information and put the research into context for patient and public reviewers, the public, and potential donors. If requesting a lay summary as part of application for funding, be explicit about the information that needs to be included so researchers understand what is required. It is good practice to include this information both on the charity’s website and in any guidance documents.

  • Update the charity’s research strategy regularly (at least every five years) to keep it accurate and up to date with progress in the charity's research field(s). Advice from the research review committee and a wider network of advisers, including patients and the public, should be a major feature of research strategy development. Charities should also set their research strategies in the context of the wider funding environment and take measures to avoid overlap with other funders’ strategies wherever possible. Regular review of the strategy will assist with this process and keep it up to date.

  • Clearly and accessibly publish the assessment criteria for every funding call and criteria for making triage decisions (where used) to ensure the process is transparent and fair for researchers. Publish the application process and terms and conditions of awards on the charity's website and ensure this information is easily accessible and includes clear deadlines for applications, enabling researchers to plan effectively.

  • Publish details about funding opportunities widely so that they will reach the greatest range of potential applicants from all relevant fields. Give accurate information and advice to potential applicants about the schemes on offer, whether they would be eligible to apply, and whether their research would be appropriate.

  • Publish the success rates of eligible applications in grant rounds, wherever possible. This helps to manage expectations of potential applicants and demonstrates that awards are made in open competition.

  • Inform applicants about the outcome of their application as quickly as possible. Provide feedback to applicants (successful and unsuccessful) wherever possible to help them to improve future applications. It is helpful to tell them at the time of their application when they should expect to receive feedback.

  • Publish a term of reference for the research review committee(s) that clearly outlines its roles and responsibilities.

  • It is important that charity funders share transparently how and why animals are used in research, and that animals are only used where it is necessary and there is no alternative. To address this, the 3Rs (replacement, refinement, and reduction) of animals must be considered in research applications and their assessment.

Click the images below to view our other principles.