Research Ethics Approval Procedure

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The Research Ethics Approval Procedure (which has the status of University of Sheffield policy) sets out the practicalities of research ethics review at the University of Sheffield and should be read by all University staff and registered students who are conducting, or planning to conduct, research involving human participants, personal data, and human tissue, as well as any others conducting research on University premises.

1. Introduction

The University’s approach to research ethics requires that all research involving human participants, personal data, or human tissue should be reviewed, and research ethics approval obtained, before data gathering commences.

This approach applies to all University staff and registered students who conduct, or contribute to, research activities involving human participants, personal data or human tissue, whether these take place within or outside University premises and facilities. This includes administrative research undertaken by or on behalf of academic or non-academic departments/faculties of the University of Sheffield. It also includes collaborative projects that involve one or more colleague(s) from other organisations (in which case negotiations regarding the design of the project should incorporate agreement with respect to how and where appropriate ethics approval will be obtained).

Staff and students can seek ethics approval for their research project(s) via a number of possible routes, which are outlined in Section 2 of this Policy document.

In addition, all individuals who, although they are not members of the University, conduct, or contribute to, research activities involving human participants, personal data or human tissue that take place within University premises and facilities are expected to ensure that ethics approval for their research project(s) is obtained via an appropriate route (e.g. via the ethical review procedure at their own University or organisation).

The University’s definition of research is ‘a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared’; the full details are outlined in the General Principles and Statements section of this Policy. The definition of a participant is outlined in Research Ethics Policy Note no. 1.

Researchers have a duty of care towards all individuals whom their research may affect, not just those who are directly involved as participants; the potential for harm or distress to any such individuals should be considered at the outset, and appropriate steps taken to mitigate this risk where necessary. Further detailed discussion of safety and well-being can be found in Research Ethics Policy Note no. 3.

Section 2. Routes for obtaining ethics approval