Research Ethics

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We are experimenting with drafting a new Research Ethics Code of Practice, because the existing code is not applicable to research in creative practice. The existing full document is here [1]

Code of Practice on Research Ethics

see Appendix:1 for a working Definition of Research

1. Guiding Principles

1.0 The guiding principles of this Code of Research Ethics are respect for persons, justice, and beneficence - also referred to as the principle of non-maleficence - indicating a systematic regard for the rights and interests of others in the full range of research relationships and activities.

1.1 Respect for persons recognizes the capacity and rights of all individuals to make their own choices and decisions. It refers to the autonomy and self-determination of all human beings, acknowledges their dignity, freedom and rights. An important component of this principle is the need to provide special protection to vulnerable persons.

1.2 The principle of justice obliges the researcher to distribute equally the risks and benefits of participation in research. Any risks to persons participating in research must be weighed against any potential benefits - to the participants or the researchers, and also the wider benefits to society of the knowledge gained. As with the principle of respect for persons, there is a need to protect vulnerable groups.

1.3 Beneficence is the principle of doing good in the widest sense. It requires researchers to serve the interests and wellbeing of others. Non-maleficence is defined as the principle of neither doing, or permitting, any foreseeable harm as a consequence of research activities. It is the principle of doing no harm in the widest sense.

2. Responsibilities

2.1 Researchers must not compromise the overriding principles of respect for persons, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence in the conduct of research.

2.2 When applying the principle of justice the researchers must also consider the interests of indirectly affected participants; and persons likely to be affected by the manner by which knowledge is acquired, and the mode of its communication; (for example) through publication, exhibition or display.

2.3 Where the researcher is not sufficiently informed to make a fair judgment about the principle of justice or respect for persons - either as direct or indirect participants - it is essential that specialist advice is sought (see procedures below).

NEW --Neil 10:34, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
2.4 In exceptional circumstances, research may deliberately and legitimately be opposed to the interests of the research participants. In such cases where the objectives of the research are to reveal and critique fundamental economic, political or cultural disadvantage or exploitation. Principles of justice should, however, mean that researchers would seek to minimise any personal harm to such participants. Justification for this course of action must be submitted for approval in advance, to the Research Ethics Sub-Committee. (see, for example, Appendix 2)

a) Informed consent
2.4 Active participation in research should be on the basis of fully informed consent. Written consent should be obtained where appropriate.

2.5 Where active participants are not in a position to give informed consent due to issues of wellbeing, the researcher should have regard to the advice of the Royal College of Physicians (1990) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (1990).

2.6 Where there are third parties marginally involved in the research, for example as members of the public in an observer capacity, or where groups of people are involved, informal consent might be more appropriate.

2.7 Young persons over the age of 16 are generally thought to be able to give informed consent, although it might be appropriate to seek advice depending on the specific nature of the research. Participation involving children under 16 will require the informed consent of parents, carers or guardians.

2.8 Where the nature of the research is such that to obtain informed consent from participants before their participation might compromise the project, justification for this course of action must be submitted for approval in advance, to the Research Ethics Sub-Committee. (see, for example, Appendix 2) In these circumstances, appropriate explanations must be given to the participants at the conclusion of the research.

b) Confidentiality and data protection
2.9 Participants’ confidentiality and anonymity should be maintained, and their personal privacy protected. The identity of participants should not be revealed unless written permission is obtained prior to the research being carried out.

2.10 The collection, storage, disclosure and use of research data by researchers must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.

c) Animal rights
2.11 Research which might involve animals at the University is unlikely, however, researchers should avoid animal suffering of any kind.

d) Academic Integrity
2.12 Academic integrity should inform all research activities. Honesty should be central to the relationship between researcher, participants and other interested parties.

2.13 Research should contain the full and appropriate acknowledgment of the contributions of others, as (for example) participants, co-researchers, key-references, etc.

2.14 Participants and other relevant contributors should be offered access to the research.

e) Contractual responsibilities
2.15 The terms of any contract relating to research must not compromise the overriding principles of respect for persons, justice, beneficence or non-maleficence, any existing legal obligations and any embedded rights.

2.16 The terms of research undertaken on behalf of a sponsor must be agreed in advance. Research contracts should be clarified with all and participants with regard to Intellectual Property, or rights of disclosure, remuneration and any other benefits. Legal issues should be clarified in advance with the Legal Services Manager.

f) Legal responsibilities
2.17 Researchers should comply with all extant laws and legal requirements, rights and responsibilities.

2.18 Researchers are expected to comply with the University’s policies on Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities and seek the advice of the relevant Advisors.

2.19 Researchers should abide by the Code of Research Ethics of any professional body or subject association of which they are members, given that they are not in conflict with the University's Code of Research Ethics.

3. Procedures for Implementation

3.1 The Code of Research Ethics is applicable to all research irrespective of funding or location of the research undertaken and applies to all researchers employed by or closely associated with the University. It applies equally to staff and students, and specifically forms part of the terms and conditions of service of all academic staff. Work conducted in a researcher's own time is the researcher's responsiblity.

3.2 Give that all researchers must ensure that they do not contravene the Code of Research Ethics, all researchers should seek advice, in the first instance, from the College Research Directors; students should seek advice from their Director of Studies.

3.3 Where appropriate, a Research Ethics Approval form should be completed and submitted to College Research Committee or College Research Degrees Sub-Committee for approval.

3.4 The Chair of the Research Ethics Sub-Committee is authorized to consider and deal with applications for research ethics approval where the potential for risk or harm to researcher and participant is minimal provided the Chair is satisfied that the application is urgent due to unforeseen circumstances.

3.5 Where College Research Committee or College Research Degrees Sub-Committee assesses a project as having the potential for more than minimal risk to researcher and participant, then the proposal must be submitted to Research Ethics Sub-Committee for consideration. (see Annex 2 for an elaboration of non minimal risk)

3.6 For research involving more than minimal risk, in urgent circumstances and where the Sub-Committee may be unable to meet, the Chair of the Research Ethics Sub-Committee is authorized to approve applications involving more than minimal risk, if that decision is supported by two other Sub-Committee members. However, such consideration is at the discretion of the Chair.

3.7 At the first opportunity, all applications of more than minimal risk (and those of minimal risk under Clause 3.4)approved under Chair’s action must be tabled at Research Ethics Sub-Committee for noting by Sub-Committeee members.

3.8 ERSC requires that applications for research funding must be submitted with research ethics approval. Therefore, a member of staff intending to submit a funding application to the ESRC must obtain the approval of the Research Ethics Sub-Committee prior to submitting the application.

Annex 1.

1 The relevant college research body (College Research Committee for staff and usually the College Research Degrees Sub-Committee for students) must consider the researcher’s application first. That body may ask the researcher to make changes to the project. Once the College research body is content with the application, it will refer the project to the Research Ethics Sub-Committee for decision.

2 The circumstances in which a pedagogic research project must be considered by the Research Ethics Sub-Committee are set out in Annex 3.

3 If participants are involved, the researcher will need to obtain prior consent unless there are special circumstances as detailed in 3.11 above. A Participants’ Consent Form and Information Sheet should be attached to the application form. These should include information on the right of the participant to refuse to participate or to withdraw from the project at any time and for any reason without prejudice to either party.

4 The application form will require details on the risks and potential benefits of the research.

5 The researcher should explain how confidentiality, anonymity and privacy shall be maintained.

6 Only unusually, in cases of possible doubt, interviews will be conducted by the Research Ethics Sub-Committee with proposed researchers/interested parties in order to provide further clarification.

7 In cases where approval is not granted by the Sub-Committee, researchers may be asked to re-structure the research project for re-submission.

8 A failure to disclose information in a timely fashion to the relevant college research body or the Research Ethics Sub-Committee or the relevant Chair may constrain a researcher’s ability to continue with the identified project and in the case of a student may inhibit his/her progression and qualification.

9 All researchers are expected to abide by the decision of the relevant college research body or Research Ethics Sub-Committee. Research projects may be monitored, and can be called in for review at any time by either the relevant college research body or the Research Ethics Sub-Committee.

10 If a member of staff wishes to appeal against the decision, the mechanism is the staff grievance procedure.

11 In the case of a student application, where the Sub-Committee rejects the application completely or where the student does not wish to comply with a particular requirement of the Sub-Committee, the following process will apply. To ensure that any review is not undertaken by committee members who have previously been involved, the proposal will be dealt with by the Chair of the Research Standards and Development Committee, one member of Research Degrees Sub-Committee and one member of the Research Ethics Sub-Committee who has not dealt with the application. The quorum of the Committee in these circumstances will be two. If students have any problems lodging a request for review or any other concern, they may use the standard complaints and appeals system.

Appendix:1. Definition of Research

(Need to explain the distinction between appendix and annex and then group them into type)--Stephen 18:33, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

1.1 The definition of research used in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) is based on the Frascati definition of research. The RAE definition is as follows:

‘Research’ for the purpose of the RAE is to be understood as original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding. It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce and industry, as well as to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship*; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances and artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and analysis of materials, components and processes, e.g. for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research. * Scholarship for the RAE is defined as the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines, in forms such as dictionaries, scholarly editions, catalogues and contributions to major research databases.

1.2 The definition of research includes the following:

Scholarship: the analysis, synthesis and interpretation of ideas and information. (Boyer’s definition of scholarship (1990) includes: the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application; and the scholarship of teaching). Basic research: work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without a particular application in view Strategic research: work which is carried out to discover new knowledge which might provide for future application Applied research: work which is undertaken to discover new applications of existing or new knowledge

1.3 For the purposes of the Code of Practice on Research Ethics the following will also be included:

Consultancy: the development and interpretation of existing knowledge for specific applications
Professional practice: the interpretation and application of knowledge within a professional setting.



1. Research involving minimal risk may be approved by College Research Committee or College Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

2. In contrast to the above clause, research involving more than minimal risk must be approved by Research Ethics Sub-Committee and includes:

o Research involving vulnerable groups, for example children and young people under 18, those with a learning disability or cognitive impairment, or individuals in a dependent or unequal relationship;

o Research that addresses participants' behaviour, opinions, attitudes, feelings, experiences, etc., in respect of sensitive topics such as:

 o Sexual behaviour;
o Illegal behaviour;
o Political behaviour;

('Illegal' and 'political' should be separated. What behaviour isn't political?)--Tim 15:10, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
o Violence, abuse, exploitation, race or gender;
o Mental health;
o Physical health and treatment.

o Research involving groups where the permission of a gatekeeper is normally required for initial access to members, e.g., ethnic or cultural groups, native peoples or indigenous communities.

o Research involving deception or which is conducted without participants’ full and informed consent at the time the study is carried out.

o Research involving access to records of personal or confidential information concerning identifiable individuals not given to the researcher under informed consent.

o Research which would induce significant psychological stress or anxiety; humiliation; or cause more than minimal pain.

o Research involving intrusive interventions, such as vigorous physical exercise, which participants would not normally encounter in the course of their everyday lives.


(This annex seems to have more detail when compared to the others.) - Tim 15:19, 22 February 2010 (UTC))


The last few years have seen an increase in the professionalisation of teaching with a more critical and evaluative stance taken towards the learning environment and the practice of teaching. This is an important and valuable change in the culture of teaching and learning and one that the university wishes to support. This is evidenced by the increasing accreditation of teachers through the Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design (CLTAD) and through initiatives such as the Creative Learning in Practice Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CLIP CETL). The Medium Term Strategy highlights the intention to develop research into learning and teaching and to grow our research capacity in this area. Such activities include developing tutors to evaluate learning activities with students, to initiate new ways of working and to evaluate these, to introduce action research as part of their practice, and increasingly, to undertake more structured research into their own teaching and learning environments and to collaborate on larger scale research into learning and teaching. Funding for these projects is relatively small, £5,000 for the CLIP CETL Pedagogic Research Fund and up to three months release from teaching for the CLIP CETL Pedagogic Research category in the Fellowships scheme for example. Activities are closely tied in to the professional working context of tutors and students. They can be small scale, linked to the academic year cycle, to projects and specific timeframes associated with the curriculum. A useful distinction can be made between evaluation and research in a teaching and learning context. Evaluation may remain local and knowledge gained is initially to inform the individual or the work group they are part of. Research has as its intention a broader dissemination and is situated within the context of the wider literature on the subject. (Ashwin and Trigwell 2004). Current initiatives are aimed at encouraging a more scholarly approach to both which positions debate within the wider framework of research. In summary, research into learning and teaching is distinctive because: its intention is wholly to improve or better to understand the learning environment or learning experiences within the University. This environment and these experiences are protected by the University’s regulations and procedures; research is carried out within a professional practice setting; small scale pedagogic research often has to be conceived of and acted upon in a short time frame; evaluative and small scale projects represent an entry point for tutors to develop a more scholarly approach to their profession. The encouragement of this is part of the medium term strategy.

The Research Ethics Sub-Committee’s Role
The Sub-Committee have considered the features which might distinguish small scale efforts to improve every day teaching practice, and more complex pedagogic research with multiple ethical dimensions. The Sub-Committee consider that the distinction lies where the research goes beyond the agreement already in place between the institution and the student in relation to their study. Where informed consent, confidentiality and data protection are involved, a new agreement arises between the researcher and student, eg where the researcher is not the teacher of the group of students.

Then the ethical dimensions might need closer examination. Further details of when an application for research ethics approval is and is not required for pedagogic research is set out below. When the Research Ethics Sub-Committee’s approval is not required: It will not be necessary to complete a Research Ethics Approval Form for consideration by the Research Ethics Sub-Committee for pedagogic evaluative research projects provided that:

(i) The research is conducted within the University and the subject of the research is part of the normal professional teaching and learning context and practice, which is covered by the University’s regulations and procedures. For example, this could include study of the staff and student experience, curriculum content, teaching and learning methods, learning resources, course management, and teaching and learning facilities.

(ii) The project will be explained to students and staff involved and their informed consent obtained. Informed consent is where the participant gives their consent freely, having been fully informed of what the research entails and its consequences for the participant (please refer to Guidance Note on Informed Consent). In many cases, informal consent will be appropriate. The voluntary completion of a questionnaire will constitute consent provided that the student or member of staff has been fully informed of the purpose of the survey. However, informed written consent must be obtained, for example, where interviews form part of the project and where student written material or images of students or their work will form part of a report or publication.

(iii) Individual students and members of staff have the right to refuse to participate in the research activity.

(iv) The research design does not involve any detriment to any group of students.

When the Research Ethics Sub-Committee’s approval will be required: It will be necessary to submit a Research Ethics Approval Form to the Secretary of the Research Ethics Sub-Committee where: the researcher is uncertain whether their pedagogic research conforms to the above circumstances the research can be seen to be outside of the normal original agreement between the student and teacher/institution eg where the researcher is not the teacher of the student group and will therefore have access to personal data.

You will need to obtain the approval of the CLIP CETL Management Group and relevant College Research Committee prior to any consideration by Research Ethics Sub-Committee.

Appendix:2. ERSC Research Ethics Framework

“Some research that poses risks to research subjects in a way that is legitimate in context of the research and its outcomes.This might arise for two reasons. First, as is recognised elsewhere (see Tri-Council of Canada, 2002. research may be ‘deliberately and legitimately opposed to the interests of the research subjects’ in cases where the objectives of the research are to reveal and critique fundamental economic, political or cultural disadvantage or exploitation. Much social science research has a critical role to play in exploring and questioning social, cultural and economic structures and processes (for example relating to patterns of power and social inequality), and institutional dynamics and regimes that disadvantage some social groups over others, intentionally or not. Such research results may have a negative impact on some of the research subjects. Principles of justice should, however, mean that researchers would seek to minimise any personal harm to such people. Secondly, researchers should also consider how to balance the potential of immediate or short-term risks to research subjects against longer-term gains to future beneficiaries. It is the responsibility of the research proposers to make such a case in detail to an REC.” (If included would need to refer to provide full citation, but it would be good if the Code of Practice committed UAL to such a position)--Stephen 18:31, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

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