Departmental Ethics Review of PG Research (MA and PhD)
According to University regulations, departments are responsible for ensuring that all research conducted by their postgraduate students is in conformity with the University Statement on the Ethical Conduct of Research and related policies. These policies are:
Research Code of ConductGuidelines on Ethical PracticeCode of Practice for Dealing with Allegations of Research MisconductWhistleblowing Code of Conduct
These documents are available here:
While it’s rare that ethical practice policies impact on student research in our department, they nonetheless may do so in important ways. For instance, in cases where the research involves working with human subjects (e.g. interviews or questionnaires), the project leader must demonstrate that standard procedures for obtaining informed consent are being followed.
NB – The mechanism outlined below relates only to postgraduate research. Staff research projects with ethical issues must be referred directly to the University’s Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC).
Departmental Ethics Review Mechanism for PG Research
The department’s ethics review of postgraduate research takes place in conformity with the University’s Guidelines for Student Research
The mechanism is as follows
PhD research projects are reviewed for ethical issues at three distinct points:
- when the student applies to the programme (reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies)
- when the student applies for the PhD upgrade (reviewed by the Mentor and Assessor)
- when the student undergoes the Annual Progress Review (reviewed by the Mentor and the Head of Department or Director of Graduate Studies)
MA dissertations are reviewed for ethical issues at the point of application by the MA Convenor and the MA Admissions Tutor.
Once ethical issues have been identified with regard to a project, the Departmental Ethics Review Committee will formally meet to consider them.
Review by the Departmental Ethics Review Committee for PG Research
The Departmental Ethics Review Committee for PG Research meets on an ad hoc basis to consider cases as they arise. It will determine whether or not the research is in conformity with University ethical practice policies. In certain instances, it can refer the case to the University’s Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC).
The Terms of Reference for the Department’s Ethics Review Committee for PG Research are as follows:
Membership: the Committee is made up of any TWO of the following: Head of Department, Director of Research, Director of Graduate Studies. Where any one of these is supervising the project in question, the other two will necessarily form the committee. The committee’s secretary is the Departmental Administrator.
1. To promote good ethical conduct in postgraduate research
2. To ensure that all postgraduate research in the department is in conformity with the University’s ethical practice policies
3. To ensure that mechanisms for the identification of projects with ethical issues are in place and being followed
4. To conduct ethical reviews of specific research projects
5. To refer cases for full ethical review, where they pose significant risk to either the participants or the student, where they are beyond the expertise of committee members, or where there is uncertainty among committee members.
6. To keep a confidential record of all proceedings.
The Departmental Ethics Review Committee for PG Research or the student may apply for a full ethical review to be carried out by the University’s Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC), which is a sub-committee of the University Research Ethics Committee. The committee’s homepage is here: