Complaints and Appeals Policy

1. The Research Councils are committed to high standards of service in all their operations.

2. Despite this we recognise that things can sometimes go wrong and we want you to have the opportunity to raise any problems or complaints with us. Any complaint will be taken seriously and treated in the strictest confidence.

Reason for complaints

3. A complaint may relate to

  • Failure to follow stated policies or processes.
  • Inappropriate or insensitive attitude by staff.

4. A complaint will not be considered when:

  • Matters are subject to legal proceedings or litigation.
  • Disagreeing with a funding decision based on academic/scientific judgement.
  • Stated policies and processes have been followed.
  • The matter has been considered appropriately under the complaints policy and closed.

5. Where a complaint is related to Research Conduct, please refer to the RCUK Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct (PDF 41kb), which provides detailed guidance.

6. In order to allow a complete review of any complaint, we request that any complaint is submitted within 6 months of the issue/problem.

How to make a complaint

7. In the first instance we ask that you to try to resolve your complaint directly with the Research Council officer dealing with the issue. If the matter is not resolved and you wish to escalate your complaint please follow the processes outlined below.

8. The complaint must be made in writing, by either email or letter. Any telephone complaints will need to be followed up in written form to be formally investigated.

9. The complaint should be directed to Anne Sofield, Head of Business Process and Analysis:

  • Email:
  • Address: Anne Sofield, Head of Business Process and Analysis, AHRC, Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1FL.

Information to include in complaint

10. In order for the AHRC to investigate the complaint in a timely and effective manner we request that the following information is provided:

  • Full contact details of complainant
  • The Section/Team and the name of the AHRC officer (if known) dealing with the issue
  • A clear description of the complaint
  • Desired outcome of complaint, if appropriate.

11. The complaint will be acknowledged within 5 working days with a full response made within 20 working days thereafter. If a full response is not possible within this time we will provide details of progress made and a target date for resolution or further point of contact.


12. The following standards will be applied when considering any complaint:

  • Treated in confidence and within current information legislation (including Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • Handled fairly, sensitively and respectfully.
  • Treated in a competent and timely manner.

Appealing an Outcome

13. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint you may submit an appeal to the Chief Executive. Your appeal must be submitted within two months of receiving your complaint outcome.  The Chief Executive will review your case and aim to provide a full response within 15 working days. The response from the Chief Executive will be final.


14. If you have gone through the complaints and appeal procedure and remain dissatisfied with the outcome you have the right to refer the matter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman). You will have to make your complaint to the Ombudsman through your local Member of Parliament.


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