Introducing research ethics
Solent University requires that ethical clearance must be obtained before any research project or innovation activity can commence and potential human participants can be approached.
It is the responsibility of the principal investigator, whether a student or a member of staff to obtain ethical clearance.
Data collection during Covid-19
In light of the recent changes to Government advice on Covid-19, all staff and students undertaking research involving human participants must review and amend their project design.
Students whose projects involve person to person data collection should either move to online solutions (where this meets data security considerations) or amend their projects to use secondary literature only.
If moving to data collection via online surveys students must use the University’s license for Jisc Online Surveys. If they do not already have a user account, they need to email: firstname.lastname@example.org to request one.
The specialist panels HESS (Health, Exercise and Sport Science) and PECs (Psychology) are issuing specific guidance to students on affected courses please refer to these panels for guidance.
Students who have already received approval for projects using human participants from School ethics panels should change their project in discussion with their supervisors and make an amended approval application outlining the changes if the change is substantial.*
* A substantial modification might be a change that would alter the level of risk to the participant i.e. if working with vulnerable participants, and to do so remotely might remove the safeguard of the researcher being able to detect distress face-to-face and mitigate risk by referring to an appropriately trained person.
If students are in any doubt as to whether they should make a new ethics application they should consult their supervisor.
- If students have not already begun gathering data they should amend their project documentation for participants to reflect the online method.
- If students have already begun collecting data they should advise their participants of the switch to remote interaction and issue amended participant information documents. It is important to make clear to participants that they have the option to withdraw if owing to this change, or for any reason, they wish to do so.
Staff who are undertaking research should review their project design to include where possible online solutions (where this meets data security considerations).
Again, if using online surveys staff must use the University’s license for Jisc Online Surveys. If they do not already have a user account, they need to email: email@example.com to request one.
Where a project is funded or is collaborative they should also consult their funder and/or partners to review whether a pause or amendment to the project is warranted. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org where negotiation for no-cost extensions may need to be initiated.
If projects can be adapted to be conducted remotely the same considerations as above for students should be applied and substantial changes should be forwarded to the relevant panel for approval.
If a project cannot be adapted it must be paused. Participants should be notified of the pause and this should include a description of how any actively enrolled participants will be managed, particularly around safety monitoring/follow-up etc where applicable.
Supervisors, course teams etc can also seek clarification from the relevant school or specialist ethics panel.
The following projects may not need ethical approval:
- Ad-hoc academic audit or service evaluation projects designed and conducted solely to produce information to inform the delivery of provision. These would usually involve analysis of existing data and may include minimal participation from staff or students;
- Literary or artistic criticism;
- Testing and review within normal education requirements, and
- Projects that draw on documentary material already in the public domain.
However, research/innovation activities involving focus groups will need to secure ethical clearance.
How to make an ethics application
Follow the links below to find out about different kinds of ethics applications:
Information for students
Information for supervisors
Information for members of staff
Information for panel members/deputy chairs
Useful resources and sample forms
UKRIO checklist for researchers
UKRI preventing harm (safeguarding) in research and innovation
Research Ethics indicative reading list
Research ethics release criteria
Example informed consent form
Example participant information sheet
When undertaking research, it is important to consider implications for data protection. Please read the University's information on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Research ethics committee and governance
Research ethics standing panels report to the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC). For further information about Solent University's research ethics structures please view our ethics committee terms of reference:
Research Ethics Committee Terms of Reference
Solent University, as a signatory to UUK, upholds the commitments of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.
Concordat to Support Research Integrity
The University supports high standards of research integrity with a range of associated policies and procedures.
University Research Ethics Policy (Academic Handbook 2S)
University Research Ethics Procedure (Academic Handbook 4S)
Student Academic Misconduct Policy (Academic Handbook 2L)
Student Academic Misconduct Procedure (Academic Handbook 4L)
Staff Research Misconduct Policy (Academic Handbook 2T)
First points of contact for research integrity
Enquiries about the University’s response to the Concordat to Support Research Integrity – Catherine Lee, Chair of the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Committee ( email@example.com)
Enquiries about the University's Whistleblowing Policy - Dean of the relevant School or Director of Service (023 8201 3000, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Professor Syamantak Bhattacharya, Dean, Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering
- Dr Diane Bray, Dean, School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences
- Sara Briscoe, Dean, School of Business, Law and Communications
- Dr Caroline Carpenter, Director, Policy, Governance and Information
- Paul Colbran, Chief Information and Infrastructure Officer
- David Corless, Director, Estates and Facilities
- Leigh Rengger, Chief Marketing Officer
- Nona McDuff, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Students and Learning
- Catherine Lee, Director, Research, Innovation and Enterprise
- Professor Peter Lloyd, Dean, School of Art, Design and Fashion
- Paul Marchbank, Dean, School of Media Arts and Technology
- Stephen Avery, Interim Director of Finance
- Andrea Thompson, Chief People Officer, People and Development
Best principles for metrics-based research
Solent University has adopted the principles of both the Leiden Manifesto and the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) which foreground best practice in the use of metrics-based research assessment. Both Leiden and DORA respond to concerns about the reliability and value of research evaluation using quantitative data and set out the principles for responsible, transparent and contextualised use of data balanced by informed peer judgement.
Read more about the Leiden Manifesto
Read more about DORA
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