Answers to popular questions about research ethics applications.
Please also see our FAQs specific to student
research projects and FAQs on research in the
This is my first application for ethical
approval – where do I start?
For general information on when you need to apply for ethical
approval, who to contact and how to prepare an application, members
of staff should contact your Faculty
Research Ethics Committee (FREC) chair or secretary.
Students should refer to the separate students research FAQs.
If your research surveys students across the University, or if
you are not a member of a faculty (e.g. you work in a UWE
Bristol professional service), please contact Alison Vaughton
Under what circumstances do I need to
apply for ethical approval for my research?
human participants, their tissue and/or
be subject to research ethics
scrutiny by the University's Research Ethics Committee (UREC) or
one of its Faculty Research Ethics Committees (FRECs). If your
research falls within the scope of the Department of Health
Research Governance Framework there are special requirements
relating to Ethics (see
) and NHS Research
How long will my application take?
You are advised to prepare research ethics
applications early as, depending on the time of year and
availability of Committee members, the processes and procedures of
scrutiny can take up to six weeks to complete. An
application through the NHS Research Ethics Committee system
may take longer than this.
What is meant by 'informed
Informed consent is an ethical requirement
of the research process. Potential research participants should be
given sufficient information about a study, in a format they
understand, to enable them to exercise their right to make an
informed decision whether or not to participate in a research
more information on consent
What is the difference between passive
and active consent?
Active consent requires a research study
participant (or their representative, e.g. a parent in the case of
research on minors) to sign and return a form agreeing to
participate in the research. Under passive consent information and
a consent form are provided and the ‘participant’ (or their
representative) must actively refuse to participate in the
The lack of an objection is deemed to be consent. Put simply, if
you don’t say 'no' it means that you are saying 'yes'! This is
considered by some to be ethically questionable. For more
information on the consent process see
Guide on consent of participants.
What do I need to include on a
participant information sheet?
A participant information sheet should give
potential recruits to a research study sufficient information to
make a decision as to whether or not they wish to take part in the
research. It should be written in language that could easily be
understood by any person. See Guide to producing
participant information sheets
I am working with human tissue - do
I need to get ethical approval for my research?
All research using human tissue requires
ethical approval. Human tissue is defined as material that has
come from a human body and consists of, or includes, human
cells. View policies and procedures
for human tissue research.
I am a visiting scholar from another
institution. Do I need UWE Bristol ethics approval for my
Visiting scholars conducting research at UWE
Bristol should have appropriate ethical approval for their research
from their home institution. They are required to comply with UWE
Bristol's codes of conduct and meet the relevant health and safety
visiting titles and guidance.
Do I need to encrypt my research
If you are dealing with personal data or
sensitive personal data (SPD) and there is a need to store the data
or transfer it outside of the UWE Bristol secure servers, then
be used. See the guidance
on data protection
on the staff intranet.
Do I need ethics approval if I am
collecting data via the internet?
If your research involves human
participation then it must be subjected to research ethics scrutiny
by the UREC
or one of the
in the same way as research by interview or questionnaire.
Further guidance can be found at
UK Data Archive
Do I need to get ethical approval before
I submit my bid for funding?
Before applying for a research grant, you
should always check the terms and conditions applied by research
funders. Some require ethical approval prior to application, most
make ethical approval a condition of the award once offered.
How do I complete the ethics section on
my EU proposal?
All proposals received by the commission
must describe the ethical, safety and socio-economic issues raised
by the research proposed and how they will be addressed. The
guidance on ethical review
Who needs a DBS (Disclosure and
Barring Service) check?
The Disclosure and Barring Service’s
aim is to help protect children and vulnerable adults to support
organisations recruiting people into positions of trust.
Students undertaking research as part of their programme of
study/research students whose work involves one-to-one or other
unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults will
usually need to be DBS checked.
If you require a DBS check please contact
Vicky Nash (Victoria.Nash@uwe.ac.uk) or
Marisa Downham (Marisa.Downham@uwe.ac.uk) in
the Graduate School.
Staff undertaking research work which involves one-to-one or
other unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults will
usually be checked. The need for a check should be identified by
the researcher and manager on the basis of the nature of the
activity involved. However Research Ethics Committees may make
recommendations regarding DBS checks for projects
they review, in line with the University's policy. Members of
staff requiring DBS checks should e-mail