Carrying out ethically responsible research
What you need to do as part of your research project to make sure your research complies with our ethical principles.
Our ethical standards
We are a leading research university committed to maintaining the highest standards of research excellence and integrity.
We uphold the principles outlined in the Concordat to Support Research Integrity (Universities UK, July 2012) and continue to work to further enhance and strengthen our arrangements and research culture in this area.
In addition to our own Code of Good Practice in Research Integrity, we make sure our research complies with ethical principles set out by the Research Councils.
Requirements for all our research
All researchers (staff and students, undergraduate and postgraduate) must ensure their research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.
Before you perform any research activity, you must:
- complete, submit and have agreed an Ethical Implications of Research Activity (EIRA) 1 form
- (if you require ethical approval) seek and obtain full ethical committee approval
This requirement applies to externally or internally-funded research, consultancies and external partnerships as well as other activity. This also applies to staff and student research activities.
Any significant change to a project for which an EIRA form has been completed will require a new EIRA form.
The process of completing an EIRA form
The entire process of filling out, reviewing and signing off the form takes place online.
- The Principal Investigator (PI) completes the form and sends it to a Second Reader.
- The Second Reader reviews the form and either sends it back to the PI with comments or forwards it to the Head of Department/Division. (The Departmental Research Ethics Officer is automatically notified when the form reaches the Head of Department/Division.)
- The Head of Department/Division can either send it back to the PI with comments or sign it off.
- The DREO will review issues for action and inclusion in the Departmental Annual Monitoring Report.
If you need advice on identifying or assessing ethical issues or completing the form, you should contact your DREO.
If you answer 'yes' to any questions in Section 1, 2 or 3 your project will require formal ethical consideration. Please ensure that you seek guidance from your Faculty/School to ensure that the necessary ethical approvals are in place before the project starts.
Research requiring additional ethical reviews
If you are unsure whether your project falls under the definition of 'Research' according to the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research please use this decision tool to help you confirm what kind of ethical consideration your project requires.
Your research may require additional ethical reviews if it involves:
- human participants, blood or human tissue (see the guidance for applying for University sponsorship to work in the NHS, Psychology Ethics Committee and the Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health)
- people who do not have capacity to consent (see the guidance for applying for University sponsorship to work in the NHS, Psychology Ethics Committee and the Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health)
- NHS (see the guidance for applying for University sponsorship to work in the NHS and Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health)
- clinical trials (see the guidance for applying for University sponsorship to work in the NHS and Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health)
- sensitive data (contact your Department Research Ethics Officer (DREO) in the first instance); the Library has a page with further guidance on storage, encryption, transfer and disposal of sensitive data. The Research Data Service run an annual workshop on managing sensitive data. If you need to organise a bespoke training session please e-mail them
- funding by ESRC see Social Sciences Research Committee for more details
Contact your DREO to find out if your research requires additional ethical reviews.
Even if you have been awarded a research grant, you will not receive the funding before completing these additional reviews.
According to the Act, it is unlawful to remove, store or use human tissue from the living or deceased without appropriate consent; the consent must be for specified ethically approved research or health-related purposes. This offence is punishable by a fine and/or three years' imprisonment.
The Human Tissue Authority's codes of practice give practical guidance on human tissue legislation.
The University does not hold a licence for usage or storage of human tissue. As such, all work involving human tissue can only be done under Sponsorship. For more details see the guidance for applying for University sponsorship
If your research involves the study of terrorism and you require access to material which supports terrorism as part of your work, please register your research with Nicky Kemp, Director of Policy, Planning and Compliance. More information and guidance can be found in section 2.5.1 'Security Sensitive Research' of the University's Prevent Policy.
Conducting confidential research interviews online
Microsoft Teams is the recommended platform for conducting confidential research interviews online. Read our guide to conducting confidential research interviews online to ensure confidentiality, privacy and data protection requirements are adhered to when recording and storing online interviews.
Training courses and support
Research Ethics and Governance online course
Concordat to Support Research Integrity online course for staff
Concordat to Support Research Integrity online course for doctoral students
Research Data Service Training Sessions
Managing Human Participant Research Data: moodle course
Writing your Data Management Plan: moodle course