The Research Ethics Policy is intended to:
- Provide standards to safeguard the rights of individuals and groups with whom researchers interact, including the University, its staff and students
- Guide staff, students and any interested parties, including the public, in the ethical points of consideration that may arise from research activity
- Direct researchers to adhere to best practices relating to the ethical development, implementation and dissemination of research
Research at the University of Derby (hereby referred to as ‘The University’) is conducted according to the principles of integrity, academic excellence, accountability, inclusiveness and professionalism. The University promotes the general principles of honesty, academic rigour, transparency and open communication and care and respect. All research must follow appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.
Underpinning the University’s approach to research ethics are the ethical imperatives of Do No Harm (non-malfeasance) and Do Good (beneficence). The Research Ethics Policy has been drawn up to conform with the principles laid out in other relevant policies, guidelines and codes of conduct, including those of funding bodies such as the Research Councils and the UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity. The Research Ethics Policy provides the framework within which ethical review will operate across the University.
The Research Ethics Policy describes the principles underpinning the ethical conduct of research and defines the principles for the objective and rigorous ethical review of research, which falls within its scope.
For the purpose of this policy, research is defined (based on the Research Excellence Framework definitions) as original investigation undertaken in order to acquire knowledge and understanding, which is effectively shared.
This would include:
- The invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, and artefacts including design, leading to new or substantially improved insights
- Work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors
- Scholarship such as the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines (e.g., dictionaries, catalogues and research databases)
- The use of existing knowledge and experimentation to develop new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction
Research would not normally include:
- Routine audit and evaluation, such as the routine evaluation of teaching, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques
- The development of teaching materials and activities that do not involve original research
- Purely documentary research on sources that are already in the public domain such as historical, literary, publicly available datasets and theoretical research
- Routine testing and analysis of materials and processes
If there is any doubt if a piece of research requires ethical approval ALWAYS consult the Chair of the appropriate College Research Ethics Committee.
The University Research Ethics Policy applies to all employees, students and visiting researchers of the University, including persons holding honorary University appointments and students on placements, who conduct research within, or on behalf of, the University.
It is expected that all research undertaken at the University will be conducted in compliance with the University’s Research Misconduct Policy and Procedures and the UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity.
Researchers must adhere to any regulations laid down by their professional body and any legal requirements relating to their research, such as Acts of Parliament or statutory regulations.
Legislation or Government bodies may require ethical review to be conducted by a specific ethics committee. For example, the Human Tissue Act (2004), the Mental Capacity Act, or the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004) or the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research (2020). In these cases, ethics review by, for example, the NHS Research Ethics Committee takes precedence over the University ethics system. Researchers should avoid duplication of ethics review.
All research projects must have received research ethics approval BEFORE the research activity is initiated.
This Policy is subject to the oversight of the University Research Ethics Committee, a subcommittee of the University Research Committee.
Research Ethics Applications are approved by College Research Ethics Committees, which are subcommittees of the College Research Committees. Research ethics applications are managed and monitored via the Ethics Monitor digital system.
The University Research Ethics Committee ensures and monitors the integrity of research ethics at the University of Derby by coordinating activity of the College Research Ethics Committees. It promotes the general principles of honesty, academic rigor, transparency and open communication and care and respect. The University Research Ethics Committee steers the development, review, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, procedures and guidelines to facilitate the process of research ethics governance.
College Research Ethics Committees will submit their annual reports in July to the University Research Ethics Committee who will provide an Annual Report which gives an overview of the operation of the Research Ethics Approval Process, compliance and any breaches of research ethics and/or integrity across the University. The University Research Ethics Committee’s Annual Report will inform the Annual Research Integrity Statement by the September Meeting of the University Research Committee. This statement is part of the compliance requirements of the UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity.
5. Policy Statement
5.1 General principles underpinning the ethical conduct of research
Researchers must abide with the following principles at all stages of the research lifecycle. This includes the planning stage, applying for funding, the conduct and later stages of the project, such as dissemination and impact activities.
- The researcher must respect the rights, interests and dignity of participants and related persons in research
- Research must be undertaken in accordance with all appropriate University Policies and relevant common law or legislation
- Full informed consent should normally be obtained from participants or appropriate legal guardian to enable participants to take part voluntarily. Consent should be given freely without force or coercion
- Researchers have an obligation to protect research participants wherever possible from significant harm consequent upon the research
- The confidentiality of information supplied by research participants and any agreement to grant anonymity to respondents should be respected
- Care must be taken with collecting, handling and storing sensitive, classified and/or personal data. Such data should be kept securely and protected from unauthorised access. Particular care should be taken to ensure that human data cannot be linked back to individuals unless by authorised persons, who are explicitly stated in the Research Ethics Application. It is essential that all sensitive, classified and /or personal data are disposed of appropriately in line with legal and funder requirements
- Both the design of research and its conduct should ensure integrity, quality and provide benefits that outweigh potential risk or harm
- Research shall be undertaken subject to the principle of academic independence. Where any conflicts of interest or partiality arise, these must be clearly stated prior to ethical approval being obtained
- The same high ethical standards shall apply wherever in the world the research is being undertaken or in which ever modality
- The principal investigator and the research team shall be responsible for determining what ethical issues emerge from the proposed project and for obtaining ethical approval of the project
- Researchers are responsible for ensuring the project is undertaken as approved by the University research ethics approval process and in compliance with any legal or organisational requirements
- Researchers are responsible for confirming with the CREC Chair the significance of any divergence from the approved research and the potential need to acquire further ethics approval before continuing with the research.
5.2 Collaborative Research
The University Research Ethics Policy and its principles should be highlighted to all proposed collaborators (e.g. academic, business, third and public sector) or project partners providing co-funding or in-kind contribution, prior to a submission for funding. Where a joint research project with another institution is proposed, the lead principal investigator at the University of Derby shall submit an application to the University to seek ethical approval. In cases where the co-applicant is at the University of Derby (and the lead principal investigator is at another institution), the University of Derby co-applicant shall submit an application to evidence ethical approval, ensuring that the ethics approval from the other institution is attached with the ethics application (if it is made available). In addition, it should be noted that compliance with ethical principles which may be regarded as appropriate in the jurisdiction where the research is being undertaken is not a substitute for ethical approval from the University of Derby.
Where research is to be conducted outside the UK or involves international partners, University of Derby representatives or partners should establish whether ethics review is required by the non-UK partners, and how the principles of the University’s Research Ethics Policy may be followed in developing and undertaking the research. Legal and ethics requirements for all overseas countries must also be followed, including determining whether an overseas country has a requirement for an ethics review process to be conducted by a research ethics committee based within the country in question.
Failure of staff or students to comply with this policy should be addressed in the context of the University’s Research Misconduct Policy and Procedures.
7. Related Documentation
7.1 University Research Ethics Procedures
This document defines the processes associated with applying for research ethics approval at the University and provides guidance on specific issues to consider when making an application, including for research carried out under the auspices of the NHS.
The current version of the Research Ethics Procedure is available on Policy Hub.
7.2 Research Ethics
Additional Information and resources associated with the Research Ethics are available on SharePoint.
9. Equality Analysis
It is mandatory for all major policies to complete an equality analysis. This is important to ensure due consideration has been taken when developing policy on whether a policy affects a group or an individual. In those cases, when the impact is negative, it is the policy owner’s duty to mitigate this impact as much as possible, through consultation, development and implementation.