Research governance & ethics

The University has a governance framework within which all members of Edge Hill community must act when engaging in research or knowledge exchange.

The Research Ethics Policy and the Code of Practice for the Conduct of Research are the principal documents for guiding researchers in ethical conduct.

If you would like information on research integrity at Edge Hill, please contact Nikki Craske, Director of the Research Office.

Whistleblowers, or anyone else wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research being conducted by or on behalf of Edge Hill University, should contact Phil Bentley, Secretary, University Research Ethics Sub-committee.

FAQ

My project does not involve anything unethical. Do I still need to seek approval?

All researchers must:

  • ensure that their projects either receive approval from, or undergo scrutiny by an appropriate research ethics committee (REC), and
  • be able to provide written evidence from the REC to that effect. This may be a letter or the original formal e-mail from the REC.

How do I seek and evidence ethics approval or scrutiny?

All researchers seeking approval from an EHU REC must complete the Application for Ethical Approval Form (RO-GOV-05F) and submit it to the appropriate REC.

Appropriate RECs

  • Your EHU Departmental Research Ethics Committee (DREC). FAS only; most DRECs do not have authority to grant ethics approval but should scrutinise all projects and make recommendations to the FREC.
  • Your EHU Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC). Most applications will be submitted to the FREC for approval.
  • The EHU University Research Ethics Sub-Committee (URESC)
  • An appropriate, external REC in your discipline e.g. NHS, the university REC of a co-investigator, the REC from your previous university if your project was scrutinised prior to moving to EHU (and is unchanged).

Approval/scrutiny

If an external REC approves or scrutinises your project, your EHU DREC or FREC, or URESC, must formally acknowledge this approval before you conduct any primary research at EHU.

You should retain a copy of the formal notification of approval or scrutiny (whether internal or external, inc. confirmation from a REC that approval is not required) which can be presented on request. Such requests may come from funders, other RECs, auditors, the Graduate School Board of Studies (for PGRs), or other bodies.

Acceptable written confirmation will usually take the form of a copy of the e-mail or letter on which the REC’s decision was formally confirmed; without being able to provide this evidence, it may be assumed that your project has not been deemed ethical so all primary research must cease immediately.

Does ethical approval apply to an altered project?

Ethical approval or scrutiny is only applicable to the project for which approval/scrutiny was originally sought. Any changes to the project – including start/end dates previously specified – require a new application to the relevant REC.

There are no risks involved in my project so why do I need to conduct a risk assessment?

Any project can contain an element of risk. While there is no pro forma for risk assessments, the University’s research risk assessment guidance explains some of the potential risks researchers may face, some of which may not be obvious e.g. reputational or financial risks.At the very least, researchers should consider this guidance when planning their research but there may also be discipline-specific guidance or forms to complete, for example from a professional body (BERA, BPS, NHS, etc.).

When does the Research Ethics Committee meet?

DREC and FREC meeting dates are arranged locally within those areas. These can be cancelled/postponed/rescheduled so, rather than the Research Office providing potentially out of date information, researchers should approach the relevant REC to request this information.URESC meets three times per year, usually around September, January and April. Meeting dates are usually confirmed towards the end of summer. As applications normally only reach URESC via the FREC, the meeting dates are not published by the Research Office to avoid confusion although they can be provided on request.