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Research Ethics

At Warwick, all research proposals require ethical scrutiny that involve "direct contact with participants, through their physical participation in research activities (invasive and non-invasive participation), that indirectly involves participants through their provision of data or tissue and that involves people on behalf of others (e.g. parents on behalf of children)." The main ethical responsibility of researchers is "to protect participants from any harm arising from research. Harm to participants may arise from undue stress through participation, loss of self esteem, psychological injury as well as physical harm." The issue of ethical approval will also arise if the research creates "potential risks to [the] safety of [the researcher and/or] their research team when conducting certain types of research; for example a researcher may be required to enter potentially dangerous environments to question certain participants."

Note that your research does not require ethical scrutiny if it does not involve direct or indirect contact with participants. Most research involving previously existing datasets where individual-level information is not provided, or where individuals level data is provided but individuals cannot be identified (eg. British Household Panel, General Social Survey...), or when using historical data, does not require ethical scrutiny. However, it is good practice, when using an existing dataset that does not fit into the above specified categories, there should be a level of oversight of the work (if you are NOT a student this would be through the Humanities and Social Science Research Ethical Committee (HSSREC), see below if you are a student), and this is likely to include most research conducted in the department. But research involving laboratory or field experiments, or the collection of new individual level survey data, always requires ethical scrutiny. If in doubt, you must consult your adviser. The burden of responsibility for seeking the necessary scrutiny and approval lies on you.

Academic and Research Staff (including PhD students)

The University's Research Support Services provide a fuller account of university policies and procedures for ethical scrutiny and approval, including a Warwick code of conduct, a statement on the ethical conduct of research, and other guidance. The application for ethical approval should be addressed to the HSSREC following the procedure specified on the website and queries addressed to hssrec at warwick dot ac dot uk.

Ethical approval under the DR@W umbrella regulation

Those academic faculty who are listed under the Dr@w research list do not need to get ethical approval via the HSSREC, but can use that agreed under the Dr@w Umbrella, providing you undertaking an experiment using one of: Dr@w database, SONA system or a digital platform specifically listed under Dr@w e.g. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).

Graduate and Undergraduate Students

Students' research proposals may also require ethical scrutiny and approval, and this is done within the department under rules approved by the University's HSSRECLink opens in a new window. To seek approval, please complete the Department's form for ethical approval of student research and submit to the department as follows.

All application forms will be scrutinised for approval and signed by the ethical approval officer.

  • MRes dissertation research: MRes students should consult with their supervisors and, if appropriate, submit the completed form to Chau Ho in the Postgraduate Office by the deadline in your dissertation guidelines.
  • MSc dissertation research: MSc students should consult with their supervisors and, if appropriate, submit the completed form to the Postgraduate office by week 6 of the summer term.
  • Undergraduate final-year projects: undergraduate students taking EC331 Research in Applied Economics should consult with their supervisors and, if appropriate, submit the completed form via the online submission portal here. RAE students required to submit an ethical approval form should do so by week 6 of the autumn term.
  • Any coursework or any other research performed by students (like the one under the URSS) that involves individual data is potentially subject to the Ethical Approval request.

Application Form
for Ethical Scrutiny and Approval of Student-Led Research in the Department of Economics

Application submission link: upload a signed copy of your form here. Please ensure the form is signed by you and your supervisor before uploading the form.

Alex DobsonLink opens in a new window for guidance on research ethics