This page provides key information relating to the research ethics and governance arrangements in place across the University.

It includes the new University of Aberdeen Handbook for Research Governance and provides information and direction to research staff and students on key issues in this area, including ethical review, unacceptable research conduct and training in research ethics and governance.

All stakeholders in research should be familiar with the new University Handbook for Research Governance and the information contained on this page.

For research staff seeking more information in relation to clinical research, please visit the following link: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/medical/researchgovernance/clinicalresearch/.

Research Governance Handbook

The University of Aberdeen Research Governance Handbook provides a framework for research ethics and governance at the University and applies to all academic disciplines.

It sets out the standards, principles and expectations for research ethics and governance which underpin the University’s approach to research, and provides an overview of the institutional structures in place for ensuring that the University meets the highest standards in its research ethics and governance arrangements.

It outlines the University’s approach to research ethics and provides information on the types of research that require ethical approval and how to obtain that approval. It details the University’s policy and guidelines for good research conduct, and its position on unacceptable research conduct, including the processes in place for reporting and investigating allegations of unacceptable research conduct.

It also provides information on the governance processes in place to support applications for research funding (such as peer review processes and registration of research projects), and details of the University policies for storing research records and research data management.

The Handbook is reviewed regularly to ensure that our standards and processes comply with those promoted by the UK Research Integrity Office.

Research Governance Handbook - Excerpts

Section 1: Standards, Expectations and General Principles

  • explains the standards, expectations and general principles which underpin the University's approach to research governance along with the University's commitment to meeting these expectations.

Section 2: University's Research Ethics and Governance Structures

  • explains the University's research ethics and governance structures. The University has an organisational structure in place to oversee research ethics and governance; to ensure that the institution meets its obligations in this area, and that it continues to seek and maintain the highest standards.

Section 3: Framework for Research Ethics and Ethical Approval of Research

  • explains the framework for research ethics and ethical approval of research. Research ethics refers to the moral principles underpinning research at all stages, from developing a project grant application, data collection, to writing up and disseminating their findings. The University is committed to promoting and facilitating the ethical conduct of research conducted by all of its staff and postgraduate and undergraduate students.

Section 4: Policy and Guidelines on Good Research Conduct

  • explains the policy and guidelines on good research conduct.

Section 5: Research Grant Applications: Key Governance Processes

  • explains the key governance processes involved in research grant applications. This section provides an overview of the arrangements in place for managing key requirements relating to the development of research proposals and funding applications.

Section 6: University Policy on Research Data Management

  • explains the University's approach to Research Data Management.

Section 7: Training in Research Ethics and Governance

  • explains the training opportunities in research ethics and governance. The University is committed to ensuring that all researchers (staff and students) receive appropriate training opportunities in relation to research ethics and governance as part of its over-riding commitment towards staff development and to achieving the highest standards of research governance.

Section 8: Internal Health checks and Monitoring

  • explains the internal health checks and monitoring processes. The University carries out regular research ethics and governance "Health checks" across the institution. The health check is an exercise designed to provide light-touch monitoring of the research governance arrangements in place at local levels. It is coordinated centrally by the Research Policy Committee and every School is involved. The Healthcheck is intended to identify existing good practice and to highlight any local weaknesses in the University's current research ethics and governance arrangements.

Section 9: Repository of Key Research Ethics and Governance Documentation

  • provides a list of the key documents and webpages (internal and external) relating to research ethics and governance.
What is Open Access?

Contemporary open access (OA) dates back to the 1990s although the idea of open access to scholarly journal articles can trace its origins back a further 50 years or so.

The contemporary open access movement strives to make research publications (but especially peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers) available globally, for free, to anyone, at their point of access. This is made possible by the increasing ubiquity of computer and telecommunications technologies. The unacceptable inflationary costs of traditional print models of scholarly journal publishing have given tremendous impetus to alternative contemporary open access publishing modes in recent years.

An open access journal article or conference paper can:

  • be viewed for free by anyone, including academics, other scholars, the general public etc.
  • normally be re-used in more ways than a traditionally published article.

University of Aberdeen Open Access Fund

From 1st April 2013 the University receives a block grant to help fund APCs (Article Processing Charges) for the open access publishing of RCUK funded research; the University also receives money from the Wellcome Trust to pay APCs for publishing refereed journal articles arising from Wellcome Trust funded research grants.

Together these block grants constitute the University of Aberdeen Open Access Fund.

The University encourages use of the Green route for OA publishing. However, if your research is funded by either of these grant awarding bodies and needs to be published using the Gold route for open access (i.e. immediate open access availability on publication) you may obtain funding for your APCs by completing the Article Processing Charges form below.

Please read the accompanying guide "Paying Article Processing Charges" before completing and submitting the form.

The University benefits from a number of other deals which can be used be used where Gold open access is needed. These schemes are listed below - please note that there is no requirement for your research output to be funded by external funders to take advantage of these deals.

Article Processing Charges Form

Paying Article Processing Charges

What should Researchers do?

The REF open access policy formally applies to papers accepted after 1 April 2016. The funding councils expect institutional compliance much sooner than that, so we are asking for accepted manuscripts from 1 April 2015.

Any questions? Visit our Help and Support Page or E-mail openaccess@abdn.ac.uk

Committees for Research Ethics and Governance

Research Policy Committee

The Research Policy Committee has oversight of research ethics and governance issues; developing and reviewing institutional policy on research ethics and governance; receiving reports from Ethics Boards and Committees; undertaking ethics health checks within Schools.

In addition to our clinical governance structures there ar three further Committees/Boards responsible for oversight of policy and procedure for the ethical review of research and for the development of appropriate guidance for the good practice of all research activity in Schools and Institutes.

Members of these Committees are responsible for considering applications for the ethical review of research in accordance with Policy.

Arts, Social Sciences and Business

Commitee for Research Ethics & Governance in Arts, Social Sciences & Business 

This Committee is responsible for oversight of ethics and governance arrangements and good practice in the broad research area of Social Sciences, including the Business School.

Members of the Committee are responsible for considering applications for the ethical review of research in accordance with the institutional Governance Framework.

Each School has an Ethics Officer who is a member of the Committee and who can provide advice to members of their School on all matters relating to research ethics and governance

Members

School Ethics Officers:

Senior academic external to the disciplines:

Senior representative from IT Services:

Further information on Research Ethics and Governance can be obtained from the Committee Clerk, Mrs Dawn Foster

Life Sciences and Medicine

Life Sciences Ethics Review Board

The remit of the committee is to provide a review of ethical aspects of any research proposal for projects on human volunteers or human tissue samples carried out by University staff and students within Life Sciences and Medicine which are not covered by another committee e.g. the National Research Ethics Service or the Psychology Ethics Committee. This includes:

  • Studies in healthy volunteers
  • Studies using data or human tissue samples not obtained through NHS which are not completely anonymised
  • Studies carried out outside the UK where there are no appropriate local ethical review procedures
  • Studies involving biological samples being sent abroad for research purposes

Members

  • Dr Justin Williams (Chair), Mental Health
  • Dr Rebecca Barr, Musculoskeletal Research Programme
  • Dr Sohinee Bhattacharya, Obstetrics & Gynaecology
  • Mr David Bremner, Human Nutrition Group, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
  • Patricia Burns, Research Governance Manager, University of Aberdeen / NHS Grampian
  • Professor Jen Cleland, Division of Medical and Dental Education
  • Dr Mirela Delibegovic, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr Janice Drew, Metabolic Health Group, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
  • Professor Helen Galley, Anaesthesia & Intensive Care
  • Dr Charles Harrington, Mental Health
  • Dr Rosemary Hollick, Clinical Research Fellow, Rheumatology
  • Dr Alex Johnstone , Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
  • Dr Gareth Jones, Epidemiology Group
  • Dr Janet Kyle, Public Health Nutrition Group
  • Dr Rhoda Mackenzie, Year 4 Co-ordinator, Division of Medical Education
  • Dr Sara Jane MacLennan, Academic Urology Unit
  • Dr David McLernon, Medical Statistics
  • Mr Jeremy Morse, Clinical Skills Centre
  • Dr Amudha Poobalan, Public Health Nutrition Group
  • Dr Vanessa Rungapamestry, Psychology
  • Dr Sean Semple, Environmental and Occupational Medicine
  • Ms Sylvia Stephen, Human Nutrition Group, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
  • Dr Neil Vargesson, Lecturer in Developmental Biology
  • Dr Gordon Waiter, Radiology

Lay Members

  • Mrs Jackie Brawley
  • Mr Lorne Colmar
  • Mr Adrian Martin

Further information

Physical Sciences and Engineering

Physical Sciences and Engineering Research Ethics Board

The Physical Sciences and Engineering Ethics Board is responsible for the ethical review of research and for the development of appropriate guidance for the good practice of all research activity within Physical Sciences and Engineering.

Members of the Committee are responsible for considering applications for the ethical review of research in accordance with the institutional Research Governance Framework.

Representatives from all Schools within Physical Sciences and Engineering sit on the Board.

For further information on Research Ethics and Governance within Physical Sciences and Engineering please contact the Clerk to the Ethics Board at copsethics@abdn.ac.uk

 

Ethics and Governance Training

The University is committed to ensuring that all researchers (staff and students) receive the appropriate training in relation to research ethics and governance as part of its commitment towards staff development and to achieving the highest standards of research governance.

The University delivers a generic online training programme on research ethics and governance for all research staff and students.  All researchers are strongly encouraged to complete the training.  The training module was developed in consultation with the University's Ethics Committees/Review Boards and is coordinated by the University’s Researcher Development Unit. The module includes training on the key generic issues which underpin research ethics and governance and is applicable to all disciplines.

The online training can be accessed through MyAberdeen:  www.abdn.ac.uk/myaberdeen (log in required)

Research ethics and governance training is also available locally across the institution, where there is a requirement for compliance with external regulatory bodies or legislation (such as the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986; amended by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012/3039). This does not affect any specific training requirements by the NHS or home office regulations.  Staff who undergo ethics training as part of their clinical training or who have to complete research ethics training provided by other parties as part of their professional development are not required to complete the institutional ethics training.

Information on local training requirements should be sought from the appropriate School, or via line management.

For more information, please contact Marlis Barraclough, m.barraclough@abdn.ac.uk

Advice and Guidance from UKRIO

 

UKRIO Advice Service

UKRIO provides an independent, expert and confidential advice service that is open all for questions and advice relating to the conduct of academic, scientific and medical research, from issues of good practice in research to concerns about research misconduct. UKRIO welcomes enquiries on general or hypothetical topics, as well as those on specific research projects, issues and cases.

Researchers wishing to seek advice from the UKRIO can do so through their online advice form, which also provides detailed guidelines on seeking advice: http://ukrio.org/get-advice-from-ukrio/.  

UKRIO guidance documents

UKRIO also produce guidance documents for organisations and researchers. Currently these include:

  • The UKRIO Checklist for Researchers: This provides a one-page checklist of the key points of good practice in researchers to assist researcher in fulfilling the requirements of regulatory, funding and other bodies and ensure that important issues have not been overlooked.
  • Guidance for researchers on retractions in academic journals: This guidance note is designed to help researchers understand procedures for retractions, corrections and expression of concern in academic journals.
  • Case study pack: A collection of case studies of research integrity scenarios for training and teaching research integrity and ethics
Unacceptable Research Conduct

All stakeholders in research, including all academic staff, technical support staff, administrative support staff and students, have responsibility for reporting any allegation of unacceptable research conduct. Any formal allegation must be made in writing to the University Secretary.

Where a member of staff would like to discuss any allegation of unacceptable research conduct prior to making a formal complaint, they should, in the first instance, contact their line manager. If the staff member would initially be more comfortable discussing the issue with another party, they should contact one of the following:

  • The Chair of the appropriate University Research Ethics Review Board/Committee
  • The appropriate Dean of Research
  • The Vice Principal for Research and Knowledge Exchange

The University has a Policy and Procedure on Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) relating to the treatment of whistleblowers under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. This includes a clear statement that unacceptable research conduct is taken seriously by the University and that any member of staff raising bona fide concerns in good faith can do so confidentially, and without fear of suffering any detriment, but equally disciplinary procedures are in place to deal with malicious allegations. The Policy and Procedure on Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) also includes a clear indication of the procedures in which such bona fide concerns by staff may be brought to the attention of a designated individual within the institution.

For further information on the University’s Policy and Guidelines on Good Research Conduct, and its Statement on Handling Allegations of Unacceptable Research Conduct, please refer to Section 4 of the institutional Research Governance Handbook.

Key Documentation

Internal Documents

External Documents