All experiments conducted in the School of Psychology or by researchers based in the School require ethical agreement in order to protect volunteers' interests and to ensure that the highest possible standards are adhered to.

Links below provide information relating to research ethics, including documents necessary for obtaining ethical agreement (Proformas tab).

Useful information for preparing a submission can be found here

Ethics Committee Remit Statement

The committee reviews and provides advice on research ethics for all research projects carried out in the School of Psychology, including undergraduate, postgraduate and staff projects. All research and all teaching exercises involving human participants and their data which is conducted under the auspices of the School must have received approval by the PEC (even if ethical approval has been given by some other institution).

Our research ethics policy and procedures are designed to ensure detailed scrutiny of all research projects conducted in the School. PEC does not review applications from researchers out with the University of Aberdeen. However, where an application falls clearly with the research remit of the School of Psychology, we will consider applications from other schools within the University of Aberdeen.  

This committee broadly follows the British Psychological Society (BPS) Code of Ethics and Conduct and the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics in their consideration of applications for ethical approval and ensures that research is conducted in compliance within the GDPR. The committee may occasionally raise additional issues for researchers to consider, in the interests of good practice, especially when conducting research with vulnerable groups.

Ethics Proformas and Resources

Proformas

When making an online ethics application you will normally need to upload a series of documents (e.g., Consent, Instruction, and Debrief forms).  To help you prepare these we have made available a set of proformas:

Guides

We have prepared Powerpoint presentations as guides to using the online ethics system.  They are purely concerned with leading you through the technicalities of making a submission and are not a substitute for the General Guide (see link below) which gives comprehensive guidance on ethical issues.

Paper Forms

As all ethics applications are now made online, the paper application forms are no longer used. However they can provide a useful means of looking over what will be required for your application and indeed could be used to prepare much of an application offline (followed by cutting and pasting into the online ethics application).  For those reasons the paper versions are made available below:

Top

SONA Research Participation System

The School of Psychology uses the SONA Systems Research Management System to monitor experiments and participants in the Psychology Research Participant Scheme (PRPS). 

Our Level 1 and 2 Psychology students can take part in experiments via SONA through which they earn course credits. Final year thesis students and staff can recruit participants from SONA. Below are the links to SONA for participants and researchers. Also provided is a link to the PRPS proforma which researchers must submit online with the ethics application if there is an intention to recruit via SONA.

Access SONA

For researchers:

For participants:

Top

General Public Panel

The School runs a General Public Research Participation Panel to assist with various research projects. It is made up of members of the general public and any students who may wish to join.  Privacy statement.

If you would like to join our panel of volunteers, or would like further information, please contact Carolyn Porter (tel: +44 (0)1224 272222). You will be under no obligation to participate, and will be provided with full details of the research projects prior to participation. You will also be remunerated for your time. 

Note that only members of staff and postgraduate students from the School of Psychology can apply for participant panel information. If an undergraduate student requires access to the participant panel for testing, the request must come through their supervisor. It is then the supervisor’s responsibility to select and pass on contact details to the student in a manner that accords with the General Data Protection Regulations. The principles are outlined at: http://www.privacy-regulation.eu/en/article-5-principles-relating-to-processing-of-personal-data-GDPR.htm. In particular, the contact details must be destroyed when they are no longer needed, held securely, and not passed onto anyone other than those directly involved in the research. Contact details will not be provided to anyone outside of the School under any circumstances.

Before researchers can apply for participant panel contact details they need to have valid ethical permission from the School Ethics Committee and completed the University’s Information Security Awareness Training. They then need to apply to the Research Support Assistant detailing specific participant criteria.

Researchers can then contact participants by phone, mail or email. It should be made clear they are affiliated with the University. An example email can be seen here

Staff and postgraduate students who wish to recruit participants from the participation panel should also contact Carolyn Porter for details. If you are a student, please speak with your supervisor first.

Top

Research In Schools

A certain procedure is to be followed to apply for ethics to conduct research in schools. Procedural guidelines can be downloaded below, along with required proformas. 

Researchers working in schools will require a Disclosure or PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) check. Disclosure Scotland is a part of a Scottish Government agency that performs checks on an individual's background (convictions, offences) to ascertain whether they should be prohibited from working with children or particular adult groups. The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) (Scotland) Act amounts to a registration system for all those who work with children and protected adults.

A disclosure or PVG check can take 2 weeks, providing no further enquiries are involved.

There are a number of points you should bear in mind, particularly if you are planning to work with protected groups (e.g. as part of a student research project).

  • Disclosure obtained through the University only covers access to individuals within the University.
  • External public and private organisations may require you to obtain a disclosure certificate in order to work there. This is site-specific disclosure and applies to most, if not all, schools.
  • Non-UK nationals will require additional disclosure from their homeland. This may be a time-consuming process. In cases where this is not possible, it may actually preclude involvement with particular groups. Planning of undergraduate thesis work is essential.
  • Individuals are required to notify their Disclosure 'site' (employer, place of access) of changes in their circumstances that could affect their right to access protected groups.
  • At August 2010, an enhanced disclosure check costs £23. The Operations Manager for Disclosure Scotland has stated that "It is a matter for agreement between applicant and organisation as to who will be responsible for any fee payable." Normally, the student will pay this fee.

The following information might be useful to you:

Top

Ethics and the NHS

If your work involves NHS staff, patients, tissue, resources or facilities, then you need to apply to the UK-wide Standard NHS National Research Ethics Service (NRES). This is done through the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS). Currently, NRES accepts and reviews applications before passing them to your local research ethics committee; in our case this is North of Scotland Research Ethics Service (NoSRES). See the CSO website for more information.

Additional Ethics Documents and Links

Here are some useful additional documents and links related to Ethics.

Top