School of History, Art History and Philosophy

Research Ethics

Introduction

The University of Sussex is committed to promoting and upholding the highest quality academic and ethical standards in all its activities. A university-wide Research Governance Committee Framework has been established to ensure that ethical review procedures reflect best practice with regard ethical considerations in research, meet legislative, regulatory and funder requirements, and safeguard the reputation of the University.

Under the new framework, ethical governance of research undertaken in the School of History, Art History and Philosophy is overseen by the Social Sciences and Arts Cross-school Research Ethics Committee (SSA C-REC).

Direct responsibility for ethical review of research lies in part with the C-REC and in part with the School, as outlined below. The ethical review process is overseen by the central University Research Governance Committee (URGC), which is responsible for broader policy decisions relating to research governance and ethics and regularly reviews policies relating to the ethics of research to ensure that they are comprehensive, accessible, relevant and up to date.

Do I need ethical review for my research?

The main reasons for which a HAHP research project might need ethical review are that it involves interviews of any kind, or includes the use of personal data such as diaries and letters where living people are implicated or affected in some way.

If you are unsure whether your research requires ethical review then please use the five-point self-assessment checklist at http://www.sussex.ac.uk/res/1-6-12-2.html to determine whether it does.

What kind of ethical review do I need?

If ethical review is needed, then there are two types, School level and C-REC level, depending on the status of the researcher and whether the project is 'low risk' or 'higher risk'.

To determine the risk level of your project please see eight-point checklist on page 5 of the Guidance for completing the Ethical Review Application Form. The main reasons for which a HAHP project might be classified as higher risk are a lack of true anonymity for participants; the possibility of the study producing psychological stress or anxiety; and the discussion of 'sensitive' topics in interviews.

Projects are allocated to the two types of review as follows:

- Low risk projects by Undergraduate (UG) and Postgraduate Taught (PGT) students are reviewed at School level.
- Low risk projects by Staff and Postgraduate Research (PGR) students are reviewed by the C-REC.
- All higher risk projects, whether by staff or students (UG, PGT, PGR), are reviewed by the C-REC.

Ethical review procedures

The procedures for the two types of review are as follows:

(1) School level review

Projects for School level review must first be authorised by the Student’s Supervisor or Course Convenor and then submitted through the online ethical review application system via Sussex Direct. Submissions must be made at least 2 weeks before the research is due to begin. Research may not commence until a favourable ethical decision has been given. The application will be reviewed by the HAHP School Research Ethics Officer (SREO), Dr Andrew Chitty.

If you have any questions, please email Andrew Chitty at a.e.chitty@sussex.ac.uk. However, applications should not be sent to him by email for review.

(2) C-REC review

All projects for C-REC review must be submitted through the online ethical review application system via Sussex Direct. Submissions must be received by the Social Sciences and Arts C-REC by the 20th of the month during which they are to be reviewed; a response can be expected by the 20th of the following month. Applications will be reviewed by the Social Sciences & Arts Cross-Schools Research Ethics Committee (C-REC) chaired by Dr Elaine Sharland.

If you have any questions, please email crec-ss@sussex.ac.uk. However, applications should not be sent to this address by email for review.

Please note: when a PGR student submits a completed ethics application for C-REC review, the application will first be sent automatically to the Student’s Supervisor for authorisation. Once the Supervisor has authorised the student's application, the C-REC will be alerted that the student's application has been authorised for review.

Application procedure

From 21 August 2012 applications can be made via the new online application system. Until 20 September 2012 the old application procedure using a Word document is still available, but applicants are encouraged to use the new online system.

To apply, please go to the University's Research Governance web page. This site also has full information about the University Research Governance Framework, including Standard Operating Procedures.

Further resources

University policies relating to Research Governance can be found on the Research Policies web page. These include guidance on intellectual property, external consultancy and codes of practice.

The following documents complement and are linked to the above, but are intended for special relevance to members of History, Art History and Philosophy.

Procedures for staff applications [Word]
Procedures for student applications [Word]

The ESRC has produced a very helpful, user-friendly, web-based resource, The Research Ethics Guidebook. It is designed for social science researchers at all stages of their training and careers but is equally useful for researchers in the Arts. Its aim is to help you think your way through ethical issues at each stage of your research, and find your way through the variety of regulatory processes and procedures that can apply to social science research. It also signposts you to more detailed information along the way.

For further advice please contact the HAHP School Research Ethics Officer, Andrew Chitty.

People and roles

The following individuals are responsible for managing the ethical review procedures for HAHP staff and students:

School level review
HAHP School Research Ethics Officer: Dr Andrew Chitty
E: a.e.chitty@sussex.ac.uk

C-REC review
Social Sciences and Arts C-REC Chair: Dr Elaine Sharland
E: e.sharland@sussex.ac.uk