The Ethics Committee will consider research proposals on a continuous basis by correspondence and will attempt to deal with all protocols expeditiously, but students and trainees submitting proposals are advised that it may take approximately 4 weeks until response, following notification that their application has been sent out to the Ethics Committee for review.
What proposals do we review?
The FHMS Ethics Committee will consider applications for ethical approval from Undergraduates, Postgraduate/taught students and Practitioner Doctorate Trainees for any research projects proposing to use human participants.
Staff and Postgraduate/research students (PhD) should refer to the University Ethics Committee’s webpages. Any other enquiries concerning ethical review at the University should be directed to the Research Integrity and Governance Office in the first instance.
Any experiment or procedure which falls within one or more of the following categories will be reviewed by the Faculty Ethics Committees:-
- Procedures involving any risk to a participant's health (for example intrusive or invasive physiological or psychological procedures);
- Surveys and questionnaires, the nature of which might be offensive, distressing or deeply personal for the particular target group even if individuals are not identifiable. This may include questions on sensitive data, i.e. ethnicity, political views, religion, physical or mental health/condition, sexual life/orientation and alleged offences. Please check the Data Protection Act (1998) legislation
- Proposals wishing to study children under the age of 16 or adults who may feel under pressure to take part due to their connection with the researcher. Please note that you may need DBS clearance for working with anyone under 18 years of age even though those 16 and over are usually considered capable of consenting for themselves.
- Research involving prisoners and young offenders.
- Proposals which involve financial payments or payments in kind to participants above reimbursement for out of pocket expenses, provision of refreshments or entry into a low-value prize draw or where the compensation could amount to more than the minimum hourly wage, or £100 in total (whichever is higher), or proposals which otherwise offer incentives which may unduly influence participants’ decision to participate.
- Proposals wishing to use undergraduate students as participants;
- Proposals which investigate existing working or professional practices at the researcher's own place of work.
- Research where the safety or well-being of the researcher may be in question.
- Research which involves deception other than withholding information about the aims of the research until the debriefing.
NHS Review and Sponsorship
All projects that, for example, but not limited to, studies that involve NHS patients, staff or facilities characterised by a specific disease or disorder, or their carers, adults lacking capacity to consent for themselves, investigational medicinal products/devices and ionising radiation will require NHS REC and/or HRA approval and MUST be submitted to an NHS Research Ethics Committee for ethical review and favourable ethical opinion. For queries on studies involving the NHS contact RIGO.
N.B. Once a proposal has been granted a favourable ethical opinion by an NHS Research Ethics Committee, a copy of the letter from that committee must be submitted to the Faculty Ethics Committee before the research commences. However the proposal does not need to be submitted again to the Faculty Ethics Committee, for further review and evidence of the above must be included with your dissertation.
How to apply
Where to submit
If you are considering using the Internet in your research, please be aware that it appears to offer unrestricted access to infinite amounts and types of data. However, the ethical issues surrounding the use of data and data collection methods must be adhered to. If you wish to take advantage of the Internet’s flexibility, as part of your research project, please be aware of the applications of ethical codes for conducting research on human participants on the Internet. The benefits, privacy and confidentiality, informed consent, deception and avoiding harm for your participants must be a priority at all times.
More guidance and information can be found on the website of the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR), or on the BPS website.
What are the Supervisor’s Responsibilities?
It is the responsibility of the supervisor to guide the student, and ensure the research design is sound and within a well generated research topic. In consultation with the supervisor, the student will complete the FHMS fast track application, checklist and 500 word summary. Full Faculty ethical review or in some cases University or NHS ethics review may be required. Supervisors will be able to advise on the above and the ethical integrity of a research project, as well as the reliability and integrity of its methodology. Students should allow a reasonable period of time, say 2 weeks, for their Supervisors to look at, check as above and sign off their applications but should also feel able to remind their supervisors if they haven’t heard from them within 7 days after the two week timeframe has passed.
In sum, before the supervisor can sign off an ethics application, they will need to make three assessments: the soundness of the research design, the risk loading of the research and which level of ethical opinion is appropriate. This must be done within a reasonable time frame to ensure their students can submit their fast track applications for approval or formal applications to the Ethics Administrator for checking before being sent to the Faculty Ethics Committee for ethical review. The format supervisors wish students to submit their proposals is a matter of preference by the supervisor. This paperwork should be kept and be available for auditing purpose.
Terms of Reference
- To consider general issues arising within the Faculty which involve considerations of an ethical nature.
- To implement guidelines, check adherence to, and compliance with these guidelines including procedures, in relation to ethical issues which may arise from research activities within the Faculty.
- To be available for consultation and advice on such ethical issues and best practice by individual members of staff, students or trainees of the Faculty.
- To consider, respond to and when appropriate, grant a favourable ethical opinion for specific research protocols submitted to the Ethics Committee by students and trainees of the Faculty
- To monitor accordance of research activities with current best practice and Committee stipulations
- To report on the process and procedures of the Committee and make recommendations to the University of Surrey Ethics Committee on key matters of policy and strategy.
Forms and Guidelines