Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to get ethics approval to do this project?
See list of exemptions noted above. If your research activiy does not fall within these listed exemptions then, you are required to complete the initial assessment on the university ethics system prior to any data collection. The answers to the questions in the initial assessment will determine if further ethical review is required by the FSE REC. If no further review is required a unique Approval number will be supplied via email.
Why is ethics approval needed?
- Upholding Research Integrity: Ethical approval ensures that the research we conduct meets the highest standards of integrity. It is a testament to our commitment to producing reliable, genuine, and trustworthy results.
- Protecting Participants: Particularly in human and animal research, ethical clearance is of paramount importance to ensure the well-being, rights, and dignity of participants are not compromised. This is essential not just from a moral standpoint but also to ensure the validity of our data.
- Ensuring Data Accuracy: When research protocols are reviewed for ethics, potential flaws or biases in the methodology can be identified and rectified. This leads to better and more accurate results.
- Building Public Trust: For our research to have a lasting impact, it must be trusted by both our peers and the public. Adhering to ethical guidelines assures them of our dedication to rigorous and responsible research.
- Avoiding Legal and Institutional Repercussions: Collecting data without ethical approval can lead to severe consequences, ranging from retraction of published works to legal actions.
It is therefore paramount that all researchers understand and respect the significance of ethical considerations in their work. Not only is it a reflection of our professionalism, but it also determines the value and impact of our contributions to the academic world.
Research interviews and questionnaires can raise issues which participants find distressing to talk or think about. Does this mean I can't use interviews or questionnaires to do my study?
The possibility that your participants could become upset in the course of your interviews or questionnaires does not mean you cannot use these data collection methods. What you will need to do, however, is to make sure you have the support, knowledge and skills to help someone if they become distressed. This may include both listening skills and written information on services which are available locally to provide longer term support for individuals. In your application for ethics approval, set out your plans for what you will do if a participant becomes upset.
For further advice see the guidance notes:
Do I need to ask my participants to sign a consent form? Some people are put off if you ask them to sign something.
You must obtain formal, written consent from participants. There may be exceptions with certain kinds of anonymous questionnaires, where completion of the questionnaire is taken to indicate consent. This may be the case where questionnaires are accessed via a web link (e.g. Survey Monkey) or with postal questionnaires the respondent signifies their consent when they return the questionnaire to you.
Download an Example of the Participant Consent Form Here