Student research FAQs

Answers to popular questions relating to student research projects. See also the Operating procedures for student project review.

Do I need research ethics approval to conduct interviews, observations or focus groups as part of my module?

All research projects involving human participants that have specified research questions, use a recognised research methods and methodology and form part of an assessment require research ethics review (see below).

Please see the guidelines on ethical review of evaluation studies and evaluation research for the requirements for ethical review of evaluation projects.

Does a research project using questionnaires in an online survey require research ethics review?

Yes, research projects involving human participants includes the use of data collection methods which are not face-to-face such as online surveys and postal surveys (see below).

If I am using secondary data, anonymised data that has previously been collected, do I need research ethics approval?

No, only where secondary datasets contain personal, identifiable data would you need to obtain research ethics approval for its use in a research project.

I am an Undergraduate doing a dissertation – do I need to complete the Faculty Research Ethics application form?

You will need to provide your supervisor with information about your research project in accordance with module requirements. Your supervisor will then assess whether your project is ‘low risk’ or not. If the project raises no significant ethical issues and is considered 'low risk' your supervisor can approve it and you will not need to submit an application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC). If your supervisor decides that the project should be reviewed by FREC then you will need to complete a full ethics application form and submit it to FREC. If your research involves staff, patients or NHS premises see below.

I am a Masters level student doing a dissertation – do I need to complete the Faculty Research Ethics Application form?

You will need to provide your supervisor with information about your research project in accordance with module requirements. Your supervisor will then assess whether your project is ‘low risk’ or not. If the project raises no significant ethical issues and is considered ‘low risk’ your supervisor can approve it and you will not need to submit an application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC). If your supervisor decides that the project should be reviewed by FREC then you will need to complete a full ethics application form and submit it to FREC. If your research involves staff, patients or NHS premises, please see below.

I am a PhD / Professional Doctoral student– do I need to complete the Faculty Research Ethics Committee Application form?

Yes, if your research involves human participants you will need to complete a full application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) so that your research project can be independently reviewed and approved. If your research involves staff, patients or NHS premises, please see below.

My research project involves patients in the NHS, how do I get ethics approval?

You will need to apply to an NHS Research Ethics Committee for approval via the online Integrated Research Application System (IRAS). You will also need NHS Research and Development approval for your project from the hospital trusts where your project will take place. You must advise the FREC secretary Leigh Taylor that you will be applying for NHS REC approval using the Health Research Authority and IRAS. Your IRAS application will need authorisation from the Chair of Faculty Research Ethics Committee and Associate Dean for Research before you submit it.

My research project involves staff in the NHS (or NHS data/premises), how do I get ethics approval?

Since your research involves human participants you will need research ethics approval. Your supervisor will assess whether your project is ‘low risk’ or not. If the project raises no significant ethical issues and is considered ‘low risk’ your supervisor can approve it and you will not need to submit an application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC). If your supervisor decides that the project should be reviewed by FREC then you will need to complete a full ethics application form and submit it to FREC. Because your project involves NHS staff, you will need NHS Research and Development approval and will need to contact the relevant Research and Development Office and apply for Research and Development approval via the IRAS. Your IRAS application will need authorisation from the Chair of Faculty Research Ethics Committee and Associate Dean for research before you submit it.

Where can I get advice on ethical review of my research?

Your supervisor can advise you on ethical issues relating to your research. They can help you complete an application to the FREC or to an NHS REC using IRAS. The FREC application form can be found on the 'applying for approval' ethics webpage. Details of how to apply for NHS REC approval or NHS Research and Development approval can be found on the IRAS web pages. There is also an IRAS helpline.

Why does my research need ethical review and approval?

The primary purpose of research ethics review is to protect human participants who take part in research.

My research project involves using human tissue - how do I get approval for this?

Research using human tissue is strictly regulated and there are separate University guidelines on this type of research which you need to understand and familiarise yourself with. These guidelines can be found on the policy and procedures ethics webpage. Your supervisor can advise on this type of research and what kind of ethics approval is needed.

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