Research Ethics

1. Role Function and Responsibilities of the Department of Animal and Plant Science Ethics Committee

The Department Ethics Committee was established in recognition of the ethical responsibilities of those engaged in research and teaching in APS. The department adheres to the University of Sheffield Ethics Review Procedure Statement and ensures that all research is consistent with its Guidelines.

The committee also seeks to enhance and maintain the awareness of the importance of ethics principles among staff and students. To ensure maximum participation and responsibility. The structure and function of these committees is outlined below:

Department Ethics Committee (DEC)

Membership

Membership represents a broad range of research experience. Current members are

  • Prof. Tim Birkhead (Chair of Committee)
  • Prof. Andrew Fleming
  • Prof. Phil Warren
  • Mrs Sue Carter

Function

  • To consider and review proposals for research covered by the University's Research Ethics governing UG and PGT students.
  • It is the responsibility of the DEC to interpret the guidelines and to advise staff and students on ethical issues associated with research and teaching. DEC can be consulted by anyone in the department about ethical issues related to research/teaching.
  • The DEC makes decisions about the ethics of research proposals.
  • The DEC will inform staff about developments in the ethics of research and will ensure that undergraduate and postgraduate students understand and appreciate the importance of research ethics by providing relevant information in handbooks and lectures/seminars.

2. Submission of Proposals to the Department Ethics Sub-Committee (DEC)

All research conducted by staff, postgraduates or undergraduates in APS must be approved by DEC prior to the commencement of empirical work. Researchers should ensure that their proposal conforms to the University's ethical guidelines. The relevant forms for submitting proposals to the Department Ethics Committee can be downloaded from the links on the right hand side of the page.

  • Completed forms from Academic Staff should be submitted to the DEC via Sue Carter.
  • Completed forms from Research Staff, Postgraduates & Undergraduates should be submitted to their supervisor.

Forms can be submitted at any time during the academic year. A decision about the ethics of the proposed research normally should not take longer than two weeks and will be communicated by DEC via email or letter.

If you are in doubt about any issues relating to the ethics of your research, please consult Sue Carter.

3. Ethical Principles for Conducting Research with Human Participants

Please read these guidelines below before starting your research. They are taken from the Code of Conduct Ethical Principles and Guidelines.
If you have taken part in departmental research, for example if you complete a questionnaire for someone or participate in an experiment, and you are concerned about its ethics, please consult the Departmental Ethics Committee. DEC was formed for the purpose of helping to promote ethics principles in teaching and research. The committee can be called upon to give advice when needed.

4. Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)

Students working with vulnerable populations such as children or elderly people are required to have their record checked by the Criminal Records Bureau. The process, known as disclosure, is coordinated by Sue Carter and can take some weeks to set up.


The UREC (University Research Ethics Committee) is designed to help to protect the dignity, rights, safety and wellbeing of those participating in research.

The principle ethics contact in APS is Professor Tim Birkhead (t.r.birkhead@sheffield.ac.uk) and anyone considering undertaking research that they feel might have ethical implications should contact him or Mrs Sue Carter (Ethics Administrator for APS).

The UREC's Terms of Reference can be found here www.shef.ac.uk/ris/other/gov-ethics/ethicspolicy/approval-procedure/review-procedure

In addition the voluntary 'Universal Ethical Code for Scientists: Rigour, Respect and Responsibility' can be found here www.berr.gov.uk/files/file41318.pdf