Research and Knowledge Exchange

Research ethics

The University of Edinburgh has adopted the UK Research Integrity Office’s Code of Practice for Research (2009).

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Code of Practice for Research

The UKRIO's Code of Practice for Research is available to download from their website:

UK Research Integrity Office: Code of Practice for Research

The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) research ethics framework

The College has a research ethics framework. All research activities must comply with these guidelines. This framework for ethical conduct of research is guided by principles of: dignity, respect, care for others, honesty, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness and leadership.

Please note that these principles apply equally to staff and students in the College.

CAHSS Research governance office support

Research Governance is ‘the broad range of regulations, principles and standards of good practice that exist to achieve, and continuously improve, research quality across all aspects of healthcare in the UK and worldwide.’ (APCRC)

Research Governance applies to everyone connected to Clinical Research, no matter how senior or junior, whether as a Chief Investigator, Care Professional, Researcher, their employer(s) or support staff.

By Clinical Research, we mean any health-related research that involves humans, their tissue and/or data.


Under the Research Governance Framework every research study relating to healthcare run in the UK is required by law to have a Sponsor. Sponsors ensure that studies are of a good quality, appropriately managed and funded, adhere to Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and are adequately indemnified.

Research Governance Framework

When would my study need a sponsor?

If your study involves human participants, their data or tissue then your study falls within the remit of the Research Governance Framework and may require sponsorship.

Typically this would be studies that are categorised as level 2/3 on the Research Ethics Application (REA) form.

Who should I contact?

For projects within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the contact is:

Charlotte Smith, Research Governance Coordinator


Telephone number: +44 (0) 131 651 1619

The College Associate Dean (Research Ethics) is Dr Laura Jeffery


Telephone number: +44 (0) 131 651 3860


What support can be offered?

The Research Governance Coordinator can advise on:

  • Whether your study comprises clinical audit, service evaluation or research.
  • Whether your project will require sponsorship.
  • When approvals are required and how to gain those approvals (ethics, R&D).
  • Planning study set-up and ongoing advice and help through recruitment and follow-up.
  • Review (and Sponsor sign off) of applications to NHS research ethics committees and for NHS management approval (R&D).
  • Assistance regarding amendments to projects.

Go to the Health Research Authority website

Go to the Medical Research Council website - Regulatory Support Centre

Go to the Scotland NHS website - Research Governance

Further research ethics policies and advice


The Academic and Clinical Central Office for Research and Development (ACCORD) is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian Health Board. ACCORD provides professional advice and expert support to researchers and commercial companies through the UK and internationally to conduct clinical research.

Go to the ACCORD website

Research misconduct

Although allegations of misconduct in research are rare the University is committed to ensuring they are thoroughly investigated.


Go to the RCUK website - guidance on governance of good research conduct

Conflicts of interest and good research practice

The University recognises that conflicts of interest can inappropriately affect research and has produced a policy statement to assist with identifying conflicts of interest and to provide procedural guidance.

Research data management

Research involving obtaining data from people requires researchers to maintain high ethical standards. This includes such considerations as data protection legislation and obtaining informed consent from research participants. 

Go to the Records Management website

Research funder ethics policy and guidance

Each of the Research Councils has its own regulations on ethics and research governance with some funders publishing detailed guidance and requirements.

Go to the British Academy website – code of practice for consideration of research proposals

Go to the RCUK website - code of practice

View the Economic & Social Research Council Framework for ethics 

Go the Medical Research Council - ethics and approvals