Accessibility statement

Preparing Papers for Academic Ethics and Compliance Committee

The University's Academic Ethics and Compliance Committee (AECC) is a sub-committee of Senate. To enable it to function efficiently and effectively, please read and observe all of the guidance below.

For further information, contact Jen Mayne, AECC Secretary:

jen.mayne@york.ac.uk

Why AECC?

When planning an item of business for AECC, you should have a clear understanding of why it needs to go to the Committee, bearing in mind AECC’s remit as set out in its terms of reference.

The AECC maintains oversight of local research ethics committees and provides a first point of referral for complex issues raised. It also considers ethical issues arising in relation to the activities of professional services.

New ethics policies and initiatives and any other business with significant implications for the handling of research ethics must be formally approved by AECC.  

An agenda item is therefore likely to be asking the Committee to do one or more of the following:

  • Formally approve a policy/procedure
  • Approve some recommendations for action - with an implementation schedule where relevant 
  • Make a decision in relation to a number of options
  • Express a view in relation to a particular issue/ proposed policy or recommendations, in order to inform a decision to be made by third party
  • Endorse a strategic need for further work to be carried out in a particular area, prior to bringing forward more detailed proposals.

Alternatively, you may just be reporting information for the Committee to note as part of its knowledge base – but you need to be clear why it needs to be brought to the Committee’s attention.

Writing Papers

1. Be clear what you are asking the Committee to do with your paper (see the ‘Why AECC’ tab). General, unfocused discussion is not an efficient or productive use of Committee time. The convention is to highlight your instruction to the Committee as a freestanding sentence or paragraph in bold, e.g. AECC is asked to approve this proposal. The instruction(s) should also be pulled out in the cover sheet to the paper (see the 'Formatting requirements’ tab), so that members can see at a glance what they are being asked to do. This is particularly important if there are a number of instructions to the Committee distributed through the main paper.

2. AECC looks to you to have a thorough grasp of the subject of your paper. Your role is like that of a civil servant: you should be providing advice and guidance on the issues at stake, not vice versa. If you wish for action to be taken or decisions to be made, lay out specific options. If you are looking for a steer on a certain issue, make the parameters for discussion relatively narrow, and explicit. Remember that discussion time for your paper will be limited: the average slot for an item is around 10 minutes.

3. You should briefly set out the background/context to your proposals. If the development of your item of business has involved consultation with the wider academic and/or professional support community, a summary of the process should be included in your paper so that the Committee can be confident that input has been sought at an appropriate level from representatives of the staff which the initiative is going to affect.

4. Whilst it is important to include sufficient detail to inform meaningful discussion, papers should be as succinct as possible, focusing on the key information and summarising where appropriate. In particular:
(a) The Committee’s focus is on strategic decision-making and points of principle, with
oversight of the implementation of ethics policy and governance relating to academic activity.
(b) You should not ask Committee members to process unmediated data for themselves: they rely on you to produce summaries and pull out key points.
(c) Where detailed information is needed for context, this can be provided in the form of an appendix to the main paper, or via a link to further information online. Bulky appendices should be avoided.

5. Further University guidance on writing committee papers can be found here. Examples of well-constructed papers are also available from the AECC Secretary on request.

 

Formatting Requirements

1. With the exception of subcommittee minutes, all papers must be accompanied by a one side coversheet, setting out:
(a) A brief indication of the paper’s contents and its provenance
(b) What the Committee is being asked to do with the paper
(c) Where the paper contains information that is confidential, commercially sensitive, or might otherwise attract exemption under Freedom of Information legislation, the relevant FOI exemption and/or any security classifications must be noted.

An AECC cover sheet template is available here:

Academic Ethics Compliance Committee Cover Sheet (MS Word , 27kb).

2. In line with University branding and accessibility guidelines, AECC papers should be presented in Calibri font, point 12 minimum. This includes the font on diagrams and/or tables.

3. To aid AECC’s discussions, please ensure that pages are numbered and that bullet points can be individually referenced i.e. (a), (b), (c) or (i), (ii), (iii), etc. For lengthy discursive papers, it is also helpful to number paragraphs.

4. In order to keep printing costs to a minimum, contributors are asked to present papers in black and white unless colour is absolutely necessary (e.g. for the presentation of line graphs or complex data where grayscale variants are not appropriate).

5. Please submit your paper in an editable format e.g. Word/Excel as opposed to PDF, so that the relevant agenda and enclosure numbers can be added for the Committee's reference. Please incorporate a document header  (it maybe left blank) as part of your paper so that the original pagination remains intact once the above information has been inserted. (The same principle applies to inserting page numbers, above).

AECC Deadlines

A table of AECC deadlines for the current academic year is provided below.

1. Deadlines for inclusion on the agenda

Please contact the Secretary at any point up to the deadline in question to propose items for a particular AECC meeting. You will need to:

(a) specify the title of your paper(s), and

(b) indicate what the Committee will be asked to do with the information i.e. consider/note for information/endorse/formally approve etc.

(c) specify whether your paper is FOI Exempt and/or confidential.

Following the deadline, the Secretary compiles a list of the agenda items proposed, for approval by the Chair. Unless you hear otherwise, you should assume that your item has been accepted.

Further items are only accepted after the deadline by agreement with the Chair. Please note that in line with University practice, the Committee does not accept tabled papers, except in exceptional circumstances by prior agreement with the Chair.

2. Deadline for submission of papers

Papers should be sent complete and ready for circulation to the Committee Secretary via email (jen.mayne@york.ac.uk) by 12pm on the day specified. See further information regarding what is required on the ‘Writing papers’ and ‘Formatting requirements’ tabs.

The stated deadlines allow the Research Policy and Strategy Office time to perform a basic check on the papers, then mark up, collate and print them prior to circulation a week in advance of the meeting. It is important that the papers go out promptly in order to allow members sufficient reading time.

Only in exceptional circumstances will it  be possible to send out papers which have already been accepted on to the agenda in a second, later circulation. This exception may be made for short critically important papers and must be agreed with the Secretary in advance of the official deadline for papers. 

Please note: missed deadlines, incorrectly formatted papers and/or incomplete submissions (including those requiring further adjustments or authorisations) cause significant disruption to the Committee’s ability to function effectively. Your co-operation in submitting papers on time and ready for circulation is appreciated.

2021-22

Date of MeetingDeadline for inclusion on agendaDeadline for submission of papers
Tuesday 14 September 2021 Tuesday 24 August 2021 12 noon, Tuesday 31 August 2021
Friday 3 December 2021 Friday 12 November 2021 12 noon, Friday 19 November 2021
March 2022 TBC 3 weeks before meeting date 2 weeks before meeting date
June 2022 TBC 3 weeks before meeting date 2 weeks before meeting date

 

The Meeting and the Outcome

  1. It is likely that you will be asked to attend AECC at an appropriate point in the meeting to speak to your agenda item. The Secretary will be in touch with details and to arrange a time. Please be prepared to present your paper formally as well as answering questions in the course of discussion. You are not expected to talk through the detail of the paper: assume that the members have read the paper in advance of the meeting. However, it is useful to focus the discussion by briefly pulling out key points and reiterating what the Committee is being asked to do. Please note that the average slot for an item is around 10 minutes.
  2. Once the minutes of the meeting have been signed off by the Chair, the Secretary will send you a copy of the relevant minute for information. You are expected to keep this for reference as part of your own records.
  3. Further action, including any wider communication of the outcome which might be required, and/or implementation of what the Committee has agreed, should be discussed with the Secretary and the Chair after the meeting. For information on appropriate routes for dissemination/implementation, see the guidance on navigating the University's research governance structures.