Academic Ethics and Ethics Approval

The Maxwell Building

Academic ethics are a set of principles addressing how researchers and research organisations should conduct themselves when dealing with research participants, their data or tissue, other researchers and colleagues, the users of their research and society in general. This applies to all research conducted by staff and students on research and taught programmes.

The process of ethical review is not intended to impede research activity, but to support the researcher in considering the ethical issues and how to manage them, the process also addresses any potential risks to both the researcher and any participants.

The University requires all research involving human participants, animals, human or animal tissue, or sensitive data conducted by its academic staff, research degree candidates and taught UG and PG students be subjected to ethics panel scrutiny. This means that most researchers within the University are required to apply for ethics approval from the relevant Ethics Panel before commencing data collection.  

Ethics applications take a minimum of 4-6 weeks to turn around and this should be considered in relation to deadlines and data collection, the Ethics Applications and Assessments tool can be found on the Academic Ethics Hub, linked at the foot of this page.

Why are academic ethics important?

It is important to conduct research in line with ethical standards for a number of reasons:

  • Ethics is an essential element of good research governance  
  • It helps to support detailed research design and project planning – leading to better experiments and questionnaires  
  • It is vital to consider the ethical consequences of research to avoid bad practice, harm or stress, loss of data, etc.  
  • It is not restricted to medical trials - all types of research must consider ethical issues  
  • Failure to gain the appropriate approval could be viewed as research misconduct and may have serious repercussions.  

When ethics are considered, this should ensure that the work is acceptable to the research community and other users of the research results.