Internal, open access

What do I need to do?

This section is not a substitute for reading and understanding the Guidance Notes, but as a procedural guide. A more detailed FAQs document can be accessed here

Research Ethics FAQs

In the first instance, however, it is suggested that researchers ask themselves the following questions:

Is it research?

It is not research if the activity is carried out solely for the purpose of teaching and learning, or if it constitutes Clinical or Social work practice or audit. With regard to the latter two categories, see the Annex E in the Guidance Notes (PDF-299kb).

If the activity is not research then it does not require ethical approval. However, appropriate procedures must be in place for the people involved to give their consent to the activity.

Is it research on human subjects, human samples or human personal data?

If the answer to this question is "yes" then the research requires ethical approval, subject to the following considerations and questions:

Data Protection and Research

Personal data used for research purposes must be used in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016 and Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018.

The above legislation sets out specific obligations for:

- informing participants about how their data will be used, shared and retained, as well as their rights

- Minimising the use of personally identifiable data wherever possible

- Having in place safeguards to protect the data of research participants

All research using human subjects, human samples (however obtained) or human personal data to be undertaken in the University, or under the auspices of the University, however funded, cannot be carried out without the approval of the University's Research Ethics Committee.

Heads of School are responsible for having procedures in place within their School that identify and review all projects that might fall within the Research Ethics Committee's terms of reference, as described in Research ethics Guidance Notes (PDF-299kb). However, the Research Ethics Committee will not consider the data protection aspects of a project so the following data protection guidance notes have been prepared to help researchers to deal with data protection issues. These should be read in conjunction with the University's guidance on Research ethics and the Quality Assurance in Research website.


Data Protection for researchers

Detailed information on Data Protection law and requirements for research activities

Data protection checklist for researchers

A step by step guide for ensuring your research meets data protection requirements

Sample Consent Form

An example consent form for researchers to ensure data protection requirements are met

Data protection for Participant Information Sheets

Information that we are required by law to provide to research participants under Article 13/14 of the GDPR. This can be added into sheets or included as an extra page.

Data Protection Impact Assessment DPIA

Find out if you need to complete a data protection impact assessment before starting a new research project.

If it involves human data, are those data in the public domain? Do they relate to deceased persons?

If the answer to either of these questions is "yes", there is no need to obtain ethical approval.

If the answer to both these questions is "no", then ethical approval is needed.

What documentation do I need?

You will need to prepare a Project Submission Form, an Application form, an Information Sheet for participants, and a Consent Form. The details of what is required for these documents is given in Section 5 of the Guidance Notes (PDF-299kb).

A number of Schools have standard application forms, which address the requirements outlined in the guidance. You should consult your research ethics contact for more information. For researchers in Schools without such forms and who are making an application to the University level Committee, the Committee has produced a generic template application, which can be downloaded , and adapted accordingly. The tempate includes the project submission form, outline consent form (as also provided below), information sheet and recruitment poster.

Samples of the Project Submission Form and the Consent Form are given in
Annex B (PDF-122kb) and Annex C (PDF-86kb) of the Guidance Notes respectively. Word versions of the Project Submission Form and Consent Form are also available for download.

If your project involves the taking of blood samples, you should also refer to the information sheet and consent form for the taking of blood samples - Annex D1 (PDF-83kb)

You may find it useful to use a 'Health & Lifestyle' questionnaire as part of your study - Example Questionnaires (PDF-115kb) for male and female participants can be tailored for your use.

To whom do I submit the documentation, i.e. is my project eligible for ethical approval by my Head of School, or should I apply to the Research Ethics Committee itself?

The "Exceptions Procedure" set out in Section 6 of the Guidance Notes (PDF-299kb) explains when ethical approval can be obtained "in-house" from your Head of School. If you are unsure, please contact the University Research Ethics Committee Secretary (Dr Mike Proven) or your School Research Ethics contact (School Research Ethics contacts). If your research does not fall within the Exceptions Procedure, the documentation needs to come to the University Committee, via Mike Proven (email:

Two difficult issues:

Consent to research with children

The difficulty here is in assessing who should give consent. The following link provides some additional notes: Consent to Research with Children (PDF-113kb)

Research on material which consists of or includes human cells
Such research is regulated by the Human Tissue Act 2004 (PDF-125kb) and is subject to requirements for consent and for licensing. If in doubt as to whether or not the Act applies to your research, you are welcome to discuss the matter with the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee.

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