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Ethics in Research (and Ethics Review Form)

In this section

  • Ethics in Research
  • Ethics Review Form
  • Humanities & Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC)

Ethics in Research - this page deals with the ethics of research practices especially those involving live subjects i.e. what risks and dangers the research poses to the researcher, subjects and institutions, as addressed in the Research Code of Practice (warwick.ac.uk).

Ethics in Research

The University requires departments to consider the ethical implications of the students’ research. We will ask you to fill in an Ethics Review FormLink opens in a new window for your upgrade and submit it together with your dissertation proposal. It is not acceptable to submit a blank form. If any ethical issues are identified, you will need to supply the PGR Director with an appropriate written description of the scope of the project, and a formal record of the decision to grant ethical approval will be kept in the departmental office.

However, if you and your supervisors think there may be significant ethical issues to be addressed it will be useful to work through the form or the checklist below at the start of your research. Early discussion of ethical issues will help your project design and minimise the risk of having to reconfigure your plans at a later stage.

In many historical research projects, there will be no ethical implications, but in cases where your research involves human participants (perhaps involving interviews and the collection of oral histories), or confidential data (perhaps medical records might be among your sources), prior ethical approval will be required.

Any concerns you have about the ethics of your research should be discussed with your Supervisor in the first instance, but you may also seek advice from the PGR Course Director, Prof. Mark Knights.

Do you need ethics approval?

Looking through this checklist will help you to know whether you are required to seek ethics approval for your research.

You are advised to discuss your project, methods and ethical issues with your module tutor or dissertation supervisor BEFORE looking at this checklist.

If you are required to submit an Ethics Review Form, you should not begin your research until your form has been approved by the PGR Course Director

  1. Does your intended research include any of the following methodologies?

  • Interviews or oral histories
  • Questionnaires or surveys
  • Analysis of any kind of social media
  • Ethnography or observation
  • Any other methodology that involves live human participants or their data?

If you said yes to any of the above, then you will require ethics approval for your project. Please complete the History Department Ethics Review Form.

For further guidance on issues to consider when using social media in your research, see https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_487729_smxx.pdf

  1. Does your intended research involve any of the following groups or their data?
  • NHS patients, staff, or facilities
  • Children aged under 16
  • Vulnerable adults (those who may be unable to give informed consent or are in a dependent position)
  • People engaged in criminal or illegal activities (including visiting websites even if there is no direct contact with individuals)
  • Terrorist or extremist organisations (including visiting websites even if there is no direct contact with individuals)
  • Ministry of Defence personnel

If you said yes to any of the above, please note that you may need additional approval from the university for your research (See HSSREC section below). Please complete the History Department Ethics Review Form, and the PGR Course Director will advise if further approval is necessary. Please note that HSSREC approval may take some time, so ensure that you seek ethics approval well in advance of beginning your research.

  1. Will your research require any travel or take place in any “high risk” locations?
  • A foreign country (especially if there is a travel warning in place)
  • Anywhere where you might put yourself at personal risk by visiting or with which you are unfamiliar
  • Any other location you think might be "high risk"

If you said yes to any of the above, please note that you may need additional approval from the university for your research (See HSSREC section below). Please complete the History Department Ethics Review Form, and the PGR Course Director will advise if further approval is necessary. Please note that HSSREC approval may take some time, so ensure that you seek ethics approval well in advance of beginning your research.

If you said no to all of the above, then you are not required to seek formal ethics approval for your project. If your answers to any of the above questions change, you will require ethics approval for your project.

Humanities & Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSSREC)

The HSSREC is responsible for overseeing processes and procedures within relevant Departments that ensure the ethical conduct and approval of research, by students, involving human participants, their data or tissue.

The HSSREC will not review many student projects, as responsibility for ethical review of student research has been delegated to Departments. However, should it be beneficial to the student or their Department for a full committee review to take place, the project may be referred to the HSSREC. Such cases would include the following:

1. Where the funder of the student has insisted on a full ethical review and departmental review is not sufficient or;

2. Where the project is of sufficiently high risk to participants or the student or outside the scope of the normal ethical expertise existing within that department and/or the Head of Department believes it more appropriate to submit for full approval.

3. Where the research will be undertaken in any location which poses a high risk to the researcher (e.g. foreign countries with travel warnings in place)

4. Where the answer to any of the following questions is 'Yes', please escalate the application to HSSREC:

  • Is the research commissioned by the military?
  • Is the research commissioned under an EU security call?
  • Does the research involve the acquisition of security clearances?
  • Does the research concern terrorist or extreme groups?

Humanities & Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee Link opens in a new window

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