Research ethics and integrity update, Spring/Summer 2020
Research Integrity update:
New Research Practice Lead for the University
Tom Stafford started as Research Practice Lead for the University in May (interview with Tom). The Research Practice Lead will work with the Sheffield Reproducibility Network to connect researchers and research services leading best practice in supporting robust and reliable research. Join the mailing list to be kept up to date, or contact Tom to discuss any issues relating to improving research quality at the University.
Updated Research Data Management Requirements
The University's Research Data Management Policy, part of the wider Good Research & Innovation Practices policy (GRIP), has been updated following researcher feedback and new funder policies. The new policy includes the recent requirement for PGR students to submit a data management plan with their confirmation review, clearer descriptions of responsibilities and an expanded definition of data to be inclusive of the Arts and Humanities. The new policy also places greater emphasis on research integrity and ensuring that the University holds up to date copies of all research data.
Updated online research integrity training
All staff and students have access to an interactive online course, providing training in good research practices through all stages of the research process (provided by Epigeum). The course has been comprehensively updated to reflect the expectations of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, a national Concordat updated in 2019, which the major UK funders expect researchers and research institutions to comply with.
The training is aimed towards those at the earlier stages of their careers, but provides information on a wide range of topics which may be of interest to more established academics, including data selection, analysis and presentation, and assigning authorship. Information about how to access the course.
Research Ethics Update from the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC):
Updated statement regarding amendments to ethically-approved projects in response to Covid-19
Following a statement circulated in March 2020, the UREC has issued a follow-up statement about handling amendments to ethically approved research projects, in response to new University guidance for recommencing overseas research projects.
New dates for ethics reviewer training in 2020-21
The UREC is planning to hold ethics reviewer training workshops on the following dates in 2020-21:
- Monday 5 October 2020 (am)
- Thursday 21 January 2021 (pm)
- Tuesday 13 April 2021 (am)
- Wednesday 9 June 2021 (am)(currently provisional)
These dates are being announced now to enable those interested in attending to hold space in their calendars; the registration for each workshop will be opened a few weeks prior to the event, and details will be circulated via departmental Principal Ethics Contacts.
New guidance on providing data collection tools as part of ethics applications
Following a recent consultation with ethics leads across all departments, the UREC has produced guidance on when data collection tools, such as questionnaires or interview schedules, should be included as part of an ethics application. It is strongly recommended that this is done wherever possible if the research involves either potentially highly sensitive topics, or potentially particularly vulnerable participants. Read the full guidance.
New guidance on payment of participants
The UREC has been working with HR to develop new guidance for researchers on payment of research participants. This guidance seeks to:
Emphasise the need to be clear that participation in research is undertaken on a voluntary basis and there is no employment relationship created (which would have legal and tax implications;
Highlight the need to avoid participants being induced to take risks which they would not otherwise be willing to take. Read the new guidance
Updates to UREC information sheet/consent form guidance
Alongside the new guidance on payment of participants, the UREC has made associated minor amendments to its participant information sheet guidance, and example consent form, see:
Update on Research Governance for health and social care research:
Flowchart for determining whether the Research Governance Procedure for Health and Social Care Research applies to your project
If your research relates to health and/or social care you may be required to undertake the University’s Research Governance Procedure. You can check if this will apply to your project using this decision tool, which is also available as a flowchart.
Visit Research Services ethics and integrity web pages for the University’s policies on research ethics and integrity, and other useful guidance