Ethical guidelines for research (including doctoral projects), public engagement activities and courses conducted by staff in the School of Education
It is a requirement from the University that all initiatives concerning research (including doctoral work), public engagement and development of new and existing courses, include a statement on ethics to be submitted by the lead member staff for approval by the College Ethics committee.
For the purpose of compiling the form correctly, the following guidelines have been developed to support staff and students in the School who apply for ethical approval.
A single application form is available at this link: https://365abdn.sharepoint.com/sites/staffethics/SitePages/Home.aspx
The application can be filled in online following a two-stage approval process. The application is first scrutinised by the School of Education and secondly by College.
Before making the electronic application, this is what is required from the applicant:
1. Research applications
Please prepare a summary of the project, of approximately one-page long;
- Attach a short summary of the ethical issues that may arise during the course of the project and indicate how these are going to be addressed.
- The ethical statement can be copied and pasted from the project summary into the form (or vice-versa).
- Where appropriate, the ethical statement may also include samples of the letters of consent and participants’ information. These can be indicative.
In addition, please acknowledge the university’s guidelines for secure data storage and indicate how these are going to be followed (for more information please click here: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/cass/documents/CASS_Research_Ethics_Policy_2014.pdf)
2. Public engagement
The procedure is similar to the above. However if you envisage the production of publications arising from the public engagement activities, please ensure that consent letters are issued to participants and data is securely stored.
3. Undergraduate and Postgraduate Courses
All new courses require ethical approval in relation to: the content and activities that students may conduct during the course. In addition, it is acknowledged that as well as new courses, also some existing courses may produce potential material for research. In this case, staff is required to specify their wish to gather data related to staff practice and/or students’ experience at the beginning of the relevant semester. Please note that one of the major ethical issues when carrying out research as part of one’s teaching is the potential conflict of interest between the roles of teacher, researcher and assessor. It is important for students to know that their material won’t be classed as research data until after it has been assessed.
4. PhD research projects
Also for PhD projects it is a requirement that students fill in the online ethical application prior to the period of data collection. Students must discuss the ethical issues related to each specific project in collaboration with the supervisors prior to the Progress Review.
It is expected that during the progress review the student will submit an ethics statement as part of the methodology section submitted to the panel. Further to the recommendations provided by the panel the student may wish to make amendments to the methodology section and – if appropriate- to the relevant ethics statement. Further to the successful completion of the progress review and prior to fieldwork, the student is required to submit a completed application and obtain ethics approval before continuing with the research.
The University has recently launched an online institutional training course on research ethics which is available via the following webpage http://www.abdn.ac.uk/staffnet/research/institutional-training-in-research-ethics-2782.php. All postgraduate research students and all staff engaged in research are strongly encouraged to complete the course.
Dr. Elizabeth Curtis and Dr. Laura Colucci-Gray (December 2015)