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Online Undergraduate Handbook

Ethical approval

Ethical approval

Principles

All undergraduate students need ethical approval for any research project or element of coursework involving gathering or holding data from human participants in any form.

It is a requirement that ethical approval is given before the research project begins.

In most cases the appropriate person to give ethical approval is the dissertation supervisor or course coordinator; however the School has an Academic Ethics Officer, Dr Mark Healey who is available for additional advice.

It is assumed that nearly all undergraduate research will require a very ‘light-touch’ approach to ethical approval, with minimal levels of form-filling and time required. However, prior ethical approval is a requirement for all research involving human participants and it is not acceptable to ignore this requirement. The implications of doing so could range from a reduced mark for your work to legal action against the researcher and/or University. For the same reasons, you need to inform us of any changes to your dissertation, project or coursework once ethical approval has been granted. Ethical approval must be given before your piece of work can proceed. For this reason, you are strongly advised to start thinking about this process as early as possible.

Who does this apply to?

Any undergraduate student undertaking an individual or joint research project involving gathering or holding data from human participants. Applicable methods can include interviews, focus groups, administration of surveys or questionnaires, ethnography, participant observation, or similar (but not, for example, questions sent by email, nonparticipant observation or information about human participants that is publicly or lawfully available – census data, population statistics produced by the government, personal letters and diaries etc held in public libraries).

Courses where this will typically apply are final year 30 credit dissertation and project units. Depending upon when the fieldwork is going to take place, the ethical approval process will most likely need to be completed at the very beginning of the academic year or in certain cases, the end of the preceding summer semester.

What you need to do

If you are undertaking a dissertation or any sort of research project / coursework involving gathering or holding data from human participants then you need to fully complete the Undergraduate Research Ethics Form including a summary of the dissertation / project and research methods to be used, and have this signed by your dissertation supervisor and/or course coordinator. Once approved and signed, please submit a copy of this form to the Alliance MBS undergraduate office, AMBS East room D20. This will be recorded on your student file.

In addition to this, each research participant must see and sign a Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form.

Further detailed information can be found on the University Policy on Ethical Approval

Research participants

Participants should enter into the research freely and willingly and know and understand
what they are agreeing to when they take part.

  • No one should be made to participate in a research study against their will.
  • Those recruiting participants should ensure that no undue influence is exerted in order to persuade the participant to take part in the research.
  • Participants should be made aware that participation is entirely voluntary; that refusal will attract no sanction, and that they will not be required to give reasons for refusal; that if they agree to participate in the study, they are free to leave the study at any time without being required to give reasons for leaving.
  • Wherever possible anonymity and confidentiality should be maintained.
  • It is inappropriate to offer volunteers excessive payments which might induce them to participate in a study against their better judgement.