Integrated Research Application System (IRAS)
A web-based integrated system for research applications was launched on 29 January 2008. This system has been introduced across the UK in order to streamline permissions and approvals application processes, which have often been criticised by researchers for being cumbersome and time consuming.
IRAS is a single, integrated research application system that has been designed to capture the information needed to be submitted by researchers for the relevant permissions and approvals to enable the conduct of health and social care research in the UK. In Scotland the scope of IRAS relates to health and community care research.
Rather than having to complete a number of separate application forms for each review body, researchers are able to enter their information once – in IRAS. Using filters, the system will ensure that data is collected and collated appropriately to the type of study, approvals and permissions required.
IRAS captures information needed to submit for the relevant approvals for the following review bodies:
Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (ARSAC)
Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC)
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – Medicines and Devices
Ministry of Justice (National Offender Management Service)
NHS / HSC research offices
NRES/ NHS / HSC Research Ethics Committees
Patient Information Advisory Group (PIAG)
IRAS builds on the well-established electronic application system already in use for ethics and NHS review. Many familiar aspects of the system remain, including helpful features such as question-specific guidance, contacts lists and navigation pages. Questions have been revised to provide information to more than one reviewing body without duplication.
IRAS is especially noteworthy for the extent of the collaboration involved. Led by the National Research Ethics Service and run under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, the system is designed for UK-wide use. The initiative is supported by the NHS R&D Forum, the major regulatory and governance bodies, the UK Health Departments, the UK Clinical Research Network (UKCRN), the Forum of NHS Wales for R&D Management in Health & Social Care (FORWARD) and various funders of research.
IRAS is just one of a number of initiatives designed to unify and streamline research administration and it links closely with other developments and builds on recent improvements in research application systems. IRAS content and technology will continue to be reviewed and updated and we will also explore the potential to extend the scope of system to include further partners within the research governance and funding arenas.