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School Research Ethics Committee

Research Ethics Committee

The University's Policy on the Ethical Approval of Research ensures appropriate ethical scrutiny for all research undertaken by its staff and students which involves human participants, human material and data.  Staff and students undertaking research have a responsibility to develop a scientifically sound and ethical proposal.  In accordance with the University's Research Governance procedures, the proposal must be submitted for ethical scrutiny.  Research on animals must be approved by the Animal Research Ethics Committee (MBC), which operates under Home Office procedures.

School Research Ethics Committee

This committee is composed of representatives of both School Research Clusters, a Chair and a lay member, as follows:
Ecology, Evolution, Behaviour and Environmental Economics:  Dr Moira Dean (Chair); Dr Marco Boeri.
Biomolecular Processes:  Dr Brian Green, Dr John E. Hallsworth, Dr Yun Yun Gong.
Lay member:  Miss May Graham MBE.

Terms of Reference

  1. The Committee will consider only research projects coming into the University's Category A, that is those being conducted by staff (or students) under their supervision) with human participants but excluding projects involving NHS/HPSS staff, patients and patient records, and/or trials of medicinal products or devices.
  2. Research projects coming into the University's Categories B and C, that is research involving NHS/HPSS staff, patients and patient records, and trials of medicinal products or devices, will not be considered, as they are required to be submitted to ORECNI, the local research ethics committee.  Blood, but not plasma, comes under the Human Tissues Act and can only be retained where there is a licence to hold human tissue.
  3. Staff in the School of Biological Sciences who are planning research coming under Categories B and C are expected to develop their proposals in consultation with staff in more appropriate schools or research institutes (e.g. coming under the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences Joint Research Ethics Committee). Staff can also contact the Research Governance Officer for the University, based in the Research Policy Office.
  4. Research involving children must be in collaboration with staff qualified in an appropriate area (e.g. coming under the School of Education's Research Ethics Committee) and researchers must ensure they have had their POCVA (Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults) check.
  5. The School Research Ethics Committee will not consider the broader areas of exploitation of biological resources or knowledge, which are beyond its scope.
  6. Peer review will be deemed to have taken place for PhD students due to the requirement for all to have a Progress Committee, with progress forms counter-signed by the Chair of the Postgraduate Committee.  For MSc students, peer review is by the Course Co-ordinator in consultation with the project supervisor.  For Honours projects, the academic supervisor should consult the Director of Education or Advisor of Studies to meet the requirement for peer review.
  7. Academic staff are expected to have had their proposals peer-reviewed during funding applications to Research Councils and other funding bodies.
  8. The majority of projects coming to the School Research Ethics Committee for evaluation are likely to be questionnaire-based or interview-based.  Experimental design, to ensure statistical validity, will be the responsibility of the staff member(s) involved.
  9. The Committee expects to deal with most applications by virtual meetings, so there are no deadlines.  However, applicants should submit their proposal at least two weeks before any activity will commence.  At least two members of the Committee will consider all requests for approval.
  10. Applications should be submitted to the School Manager, Mrs E. Purdy, in the first instance.  In addition, the project must be recorded on the University's Human Subjects Database before its start, in order to comply with the University's insurance policies.

Ethics review application form

Postgraduate (or Honours project) students and staff carrying out any research on humans must complete this form  to ensure that the research complies with the University's regulations relating to research involving human participants.

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