Ethics guidance for administrative/Professional Services staff

If you are a member of staff based in a Professional Services department, or are a member of administrative/professional services staff based elsewhere in the University, and you are undertaking a process of investigation that will involve people directly (e.g. via surveys, focus groups or interviews), or indirectly (e.g. via accessing people's personal data), then you need to consider whether your work constitutes research, and therefore will require ethics approval.

The definition of research set out in the University's Ethics Policy Governing Research Involving Human Participants, Personal Data and Human Tissue is as follows:

'a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared'

Routine audit and service evaluation are excluded from the requirement to obtain ethics approval; however, you should consider carefully whether the purpose of such activities is purely to improve an existing internal service or procedure. If you have any intention to use the findings in other ways (e.g. to share externally at a conference, to produce an externally-visible blog or to publish an article or paper) then the work is likely to fall under the definition of research and ethics approval would then be required.

Since it is not always clear whether administrative work falls under the Ethics Policy's definition of research, if you are in any doubt please contact the Professional Services' Ethics Administrator Anita Kenny or Principal Ethics Contact Lindsay Unwin, who can consult with the UREC as needed.

Further information about the process of obtaining ethics approval for administrative/professional services staff can be found using the links on this page.

Administrative Research Within the University  Research Ethics Policy Note no 7
An information session was held for Professional Services staff and further resources are available.