More than one point of data storage must be identified for saving your research. These must be at least two different points of data storage must be maintained by the applicant – usually paper-based, and on either a hard drive or online storage space, encrypted or otherwise password protected. These must be kept separate from one another (i.e., in two different locations). Research students, post-docs and staff are required to retain their data for a minimum of 10 years. Undergraduates and Masters students are advised to retain their data for a minimum of two years.
Research participants must be granted informed consent. All research participants must be given the opportunity to consent to participating in the research, and to withdraw if they so choose by a specified date. You must provide your participants with contact details, and must document the names of these participants for future confidential reference. If interviews/focus groups are being conducted, informed consent forms (with signature) and an information sheet must be provided to participants. If a survey is conducted, an information sheet should be available to participants. If you are collecting personal data or special category personal data (as defined under the General Data Protection Regulation), you need to use the approved template for your information sheet. See the Guidance on producing and examples of information sheets and consent forms.
Should research participants wish to withdraw from your project, you will need to inform them, on their information sheets and consent forms, of the last date when such withdrawal will be possible (usually just prior to submission of your dissertation or published work).
If your research guarantees anonymity, then there must be no possible way that participants might be identified. If the organisation being studied or the sample size is small, if job titles are specified, or if the subject matter is very narrow, the potential for identification is much higher. In these cases, you must specify that all efforts will be made to keep participants’ identities confidential, but that complete anonymity cannot be guaranteed. This must be made explicit to participants before they consent to contribute to the research.
Participants have the right to access the findings derived from their contributions to research. Unless specified during the informed consent process, provisions must be made to ensure results are communicated back to these participants – e.g., through distribution of the dissertation, through web or other forms of publication, etc. Your application will be returned to you for resubmission if you do not articulate a means to share your results with participants. This can be as simple as allowing the participant to read your work.
The approval process is complicated, involves many parties, and can be lengthy depending upon the number of revisions required. Turn-around time can be up to four weeks (20 working days) during term time, and longer if outside of term time, meaning that these applications must be planned well in advance. Research using human data cannot proceed without ethics approval, so please attend to the application process as quickly as possible upon designing the project. Retrospective approval will not be granted.
Ethics applications may be returned to you if they have not been properly edited and proofread. Information sheets, consent forms and associated submissions must be legible and grammatically coherent.
Referring in a student essay to work with an academic that has ethical approval is acceptable as long as the essay is not made publicly available for reference.
Yes, you should follow your department's procedures for risk assessment before undertaking any fieldwork, interviews etc, and take appropriate precautions to ensure your personal safety.
No. University Ethics Committee policy states that retrospective approval is fundamentally unethical and therefore applications for retrospective ethical approval
will automatically be rejected. This means that the research cannot be used.