On behalf of our Research Funders Policy Group, we recognise Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT or Bard, present opportunities and bring benefits in the context of research such as supporting content generation for computer code or assisting neurodivergent researchers or reducing potential language barriers.
However, the use of Generative AI tools in the funding application and assessment process also presents potential risks for research in areas such as rigour, transparency, originality, reliability, data protection, confidentiality, intellectual property, copyright, and bias. We want to protect against potential ethical, legal and integrity issues in the use of generative AI tools to maintain the high standards of the research and innovation we fund.
When developing funding proposals, researchers must ensure generative AI tools are used responsibly and in accordance with relevant legal and ethical standards where these exist or as they develop. As best practice, any outputs from generative AI tools in funding applications should be acknowledged. Where individual funders wish to apply further specific restrictions, this will be explicitly stated.
Maintaining confidentiality is essential for safeguarding the exchange of scientific opinions and assessments. As such, our peer reviewers must not input content from our confidential funding applications or reviews into, or use, generative AI tools to develop their peer review critiques or applicant responses to critiques. Our peer reviewers are selected for their expertise and experience in their field and we value their unique perspectives.
We’re taking this proactive and collective approach to set our high-level expectations whilst we develop our own, detailed individual funding policies. Generative AI tools will continue to grow and bring new considerations – both exciting and challenging. We’ll work together to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach, monitor developments, and minimise bureaucracy
Statement published 19 September 2023
Research Funders Policy Group
What we do
The Research Funders Policy Group was established in 2019 and brings together senior representatives from the UK’s major science and health research funders to discuss funding policy development and implementation, share best practice, discuss emerging issues and, where possible, achieve alignment across funding policies in the UK.
Who we are
The Research Funders Policy Group is predominantly made up of science and health research funders in the UK. The current members are:
- Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC)
- British Heart Foundation (BHF)
- Cancer Research UK (CRUK)
- National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)
- Royal Academy of Engineering
- Royal Society
- UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
The purpose of the Research Funders Policy Group is to:
- support greater alignment of funding policies and implementation
- reduce bureaucracy and duplication of effort
- enable funder coordination and collaboration between funders
- share best practice, expertise and lessons learned
- pool resources
- collectively respond to emerging issues (where appropriate) and/or share each organisation’s approach.
How we work
The Research Funders Policy Group is an informal group that does not have decision making powers on behalf of all its funder members. Any group recommendations will be handled within each funder’s organisations on an individual basis. Some topics are discussed within a subset of the group which feedback to the main Group.
The Research Funders Policy Group will invite UK science or health research funding organisations to join on a case-by-case basis and where there is alignment with our aims. All invitations will be reviewed and agreed by the Group.