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How to Apply to HSSREC

The HSSREC application process for the use of secondary data for research purposes or substantial amendments to previously approved projects was updated on 12/02/2019. Applications under these remits are referred to as 'Light Touch'. There are separate application forms for the use of secondary data and for substantial amendments. Completed application forms should be sent to

The HSSREC application form was updated on 1/11/2018. The new application form incorporates the requirements of the Data Protection Act and GDPR (2018) to ensure that research data is handled correctly from the point of collection to deletion. The additional questions will help researchers to consider all the aspects of their research data to ensure that they are compliant with GDPR regulations. It should be noted that GDPR legislation is embedded within the Data Protection Act (2018) and will remain part of UK law regardless of Brexit. Taking measures to protect research data also constitutes good research practice and should become standard practice to ensure an excellent record of research integrity. All applications to HSSREC should now use the updated form.

It is important that as well as applications that are considered by HSSREC, that all student research reviewed in Departments also include the new data sections of the form, preferably using the new forms to ensure that all relevant data is collected and research is GDPR compliant and conducted legally.

Any questions regarding the new application forms or Light Touch review process should be directed to the HSSREC secretary, Dr Rosie Bellamy via

Submission of Applications

Fully completed and signed application forms should be sent via email to Applications must be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance of the next Committee meeting to allow members appropriate time to review applications. An up-to-date schedule of meetings can be found here.

Applications Checklist

Applications should include the following documents:

  • HSSREC application form
  • Participant Information Leaflet
  • Consent Form

If applicable:

  • Copies of any relevant authorisations
  • Copies of any questionnaires/surveys/interview schedules
  • Copies of any draft recruitment material, e.g. draft email for email recruitment method, recruitment poster, text for social media post/s
  • For research conducted overseas: a copy of the Information Sheet and Consent Form should also be submitted in the participants' first language.
If you have not already done so, you are advised to undertake the Research Integrity Online Training Course. All details relating to this course can be found here.


Pilot studies

Any pilot study which assesses the feasibility of implementing a project, or is intended to develop the proposal for a larger scale study, would not require ethical review. However, if any data is collected from the pilot study, and/or the findings of the pilot would be published alongside any publications resulting from the larger study, you must obtain ethical approval before any work commences.

Participant Information Leaflet

Though we do ask that the templates on the right hand side of the page are used, we do also recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach is not always appropriate. As such, here are the necessary pieces of information that would need to be included in a participant information sheet:

  • The study title;
  • Contact details for the researcher/s;
  • The purpose of the study;
  • What participation will involve;
  • That participation is entirely voluntary, that participants can withdraw at any time* without any adverse consequences;
  • Details of any risks/disadvantages associated with participation;
  • Details of any possible benefits of taking part;
  • What the data be used for, and how it will be stored;
  • That ethical approval has been awarded;
  • Details on the complaints procedure.

* - Note that any timing restrictions for requests to withdraw data must be made clear to participants.

Applicants must ensure the language used in their information sheet is suitable for the audience it is aimed at. Where different participant groups are being recruited, the need for an information sheet applicable to each group should be considered, particularly if research related activities may differ.

Consent Form

The consent form should briefly cover the core statements which the participant is being asked to agree to. As with the information sheet, we do ask that the template consent form provided is used, particularly where written consent is being sought. However, where a study is being conducted online, or where return of a questionnaire is considered to be consent, flexibility with the format of consent can be considered.

Where written consent is being sought the participant should normally be given the opportunity to agree or disagree to each statement, via a box next to each statement allowing them to initial their consent.

Applicants must ensure that any specific research related activities noted in the information sheet should also have a corresponding statement of consent, for example:

  • I consent to the interview being audio-recorded
  • I consent to the use of anonymised verbatim quotations in publications resulting from this study

Applicants should also consider whether there is the potential for the data to be used in future research and obtain explicit consent for this. Consent for future use of data should not be assumed!

Please note that the Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form should be on University of Warwick branded documents.

Other approvals

In addition to ethical approval from Warwick, researchers need to consider whether any other types of approval or permissions may be required.

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check: Please consult the relevant webpages for guidance, both university and;
  • Health, Safety & Well-being;
  • Overseas travel approval and insurance;
  • Ethical approval from any necessary bodies overseas;
  • Letter/email of permission from organisation;
  • National Offender Management Service (NOMS) via the National Research Committee.

Please note that the above list is not exhaustive, it is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that all necessary permissions and/or approvals are in place.

Risk Assessment

For research projects deemed to be higher risk, a risk assessment for research activities may be requested by HSSREC. Where this is the case the following table can be used as a template:


Research activity Person at risk Level of risk Control measures Additional mechanisms (specific to this study)
State the research activity, e.g. focus group(s), individual interview(s), observation(s), etc. Researcher/Participant Low, Medium, High What is currently in place to lessen this risk? Is there anything in addition to the existing control measures that can be done to lessen this risk?