What do research ethics procedures apply to?
All projects involving the collection or use of data from or about living individuals are subject to research ethics consideration and procedures. The School Research Ethics Committee (SREC) considers research ethics issues and applications. It operates under the overall guidance of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC). The School Ethics Committee is concerned with the application of research ethics for all the research projects undertaken within the School. It has particular expertise in the human and social areas often studied by the disciplines within the School.
The Chair and members of the School Ethics Committee can be contacted for advice on particular projects.
- Dr Timofey Agarin (Chair)
- Prof Fiona Magowan (S1) Dr Paulo Sousa (S2) (Anthropology Representative)
- Professor John Garry, Dr Heather Johnson, Dr Ronit Berger Hobson (Politics Representatives)
- Dr Kieran Connell (History Representative)
- Dr Rebecca Bamford (Philosophy Representative)
- Dr Michael Potter (External Layperson)
The SREC conducts the review of ethics applications virtually in the intervals between meetings, retaining all documentation for audit and reporting purposes. The SREC meets at least once each academic semester, to review and update the procedures, policies and processes. It ensures that all documentation and considerations are kept up to date. It also submits an annual report to the University Research Ethics Committee.
The chair of the Research Ethics Committee sits on the School Research Committee. They report on ethical issues to the School Research Committee, which follows principles of equity and confidentiality. It must also deal with applications in acceptable time. SREC practice is governed by considerations of currency, rapidity, comprehensiveness, and confidentiality.
The approach to research ethics in the School rests on the basis that ethical considerations are fundamental for integrity of research. This means that, from the inception of research projects, ethical issues ought to be considered and integrated into research design and practice, in a deep and substantive manner. The focus is upon serious substantive consideration of ethical issues.
A complementary principle is that issues around ethical review of proposed research should be resolved at the appropriate level of responsibility, only being referred upwards when there are concerned which cannot be resolved at that level. This means that
- Staff projects are directly reviewed by the School Ethics Committee.
- Student projects would normally (although not always) be resolved by discussion between the supervisor and the student, and forwarded for additional review to the Chair of the SREC if these involve human participants or information about human participants.
Research projects would characteristically be generated by staff or by postgraduate research or taught students, as well as in limited number of cases, by undergraduate students working under close supervision of staff. Staff members, or staff and their student, should then consider the ethical issues involved in the project, focussing upon substantive issues and assisted by standard documentation. The normal expectation would be that staff projects may have to be referred to the School Research Ethics Committee (and possibly to the Faculty and/or University Research Ethics Committee), but that ethical issues for student projects would be resolved by dialogue between the supervisor and student, reported to the Chair of SREC.
In summary, then, the procedure for staff members’ research projects is to translate the substantive consideration of ethical issues which has informed the project from its inception, into the requisite form. For staff projects, then, the Research Ethics Application Form should be completed. The purpose of considering and completing these forms is to ensure the integrity of research across the School and its compliance with the School’s own, as well as University’s principles of research. If researchers are unsure they can informally approach the Chair of SREC for initial guidance.
We encourage you to approach the application for ethical clearance as an opportunity to showcase your research; the form asks you to present your aims, objectives, research design and methods of data collection in clear terms. It is not a tickbox exercise.
In the 2020/21 academic year we have already seen that colleagues applying via this procedure have appreciated an opportunity to clarify their research aims, assess the appropriateness of their chosen method of data collection and selection procedures for their research aims, and have reflected on the impact these might have on their research subjects before beginning the fieldwork. We have already heard that this saved researchers considerable time when screening the field, doing fieldwork and assessing the information before they went into the field.
You will also find it helpful to consult the following documents to ensure all the information you will have provided is in line with the QUB and HAPP regulations on Research Integrity and Ethical Guidelines in Research.
There is a comprehensive list of answer to the most frequent questions, which you can access here
You can access relevant university policies here. Please do pay specific attention to these policies:
- QUB Policy and Principles on the Ethical Approval of Research
- Research Involving Human Participants During the COVID 19 Pandemic
Our Guidanance to Navigating Research Ethics Application
- General Data Protection Regulation & Research Ethics
- Guidance for Undertaking Research during Covid-19
- Ethics of Online Research
- Data Privacy
You can access essential documents and forms from the HAPP SharePoint/Research/Research Ethics, here
This information is accessible by HAPP Staff only.
Students who require an Ethics Form should access HAP4000 on Canvas under relevant level.
- HAPP Research Ethics Application Form
- HAPP Photography and Video Recording Consent Form
- HAPP Application for Amendment to an Approved Research Application
- Enhanced Disclosure for Research with Human Participants