School of Economics


Ethics guidelines and procedures

Ethics Guidelines

All research conducted by University staff and students should be performed in accordance with the College’s research ethics framework.

All research conducted at the School of Economics requires ethics approval from the School Ethics Sub-Committee (Research). The Convener is Prof. Mike Elsby.

The purpose of the ethical standards embodied in this policy is not to limit research activities, but to promote and facilitate the conduct of all research in ways that respect the dignity and preserve the well-being of human research participants, while maintaining confidentiality.

The guidelines apply to any person or member of staff who conducts or advances research, and includes academics, emeritus, staff, teaching staff, administrators, students at any level, visiting or adjunct scholars, fellows and chairs, paid and unpaid research associates and assistants, whether acting as a principal investigator, a junior collaborator or in some other capacity

For Ethics purposes, research projects are classified according to the following levels:

Level 1: applies to research that is either completely theoretical or uses publicly available information and/or datasets only. Publicly available datasets are those that are distributed or sold to any researchers upon agreement to their respective terms and conditions of use. The data must not concern groups which may be construed as terrorist or extremist.

Level 2: applies to research that involves any form of contact (experiment, field/online survey, etc.) with healthy adult human participants who have given explicit consent to participation, or sensitive information, but does not entail potential risk of harm or discomfort (physical, psychological, social, legal or economic) to the researchers, participants, or any other individuals. The collected data must not concern groups which may be construed as terrorist or extremist.

Level 3: applies to research that involves potential risk of harm or discomfort (such as threat to personal safety and privacy, upsetting questions/images, or possibility of criminal prosecution) to the participants, researchers and/or any other individuals; a lack of informed consent; or any protocol that is not covered by Level 1 or Level 2. E.g. field experiments; randomized controlled trials; data collection from children and/or vulnerable adults; fieldwork in a developing country; analysis of highly sensitive data (such as criminal or medical records of potentially identifiable individuals); use of information concerning groups which may be construed as terrorist or extremist; data collection through a medical procedure; experiments involving living animals.

Ethics procedures for staff and students

Step 1: Read carefully the guidelines and the following document outlining the level classification of research regarding ethics approval. If you are not sure in which level your research fits in, please contact the Convener of the Ethics Sub-Committee (Research) for advice.

Step 2: For research in levels 2 and 3, complete the appropriate Ethics form and forward it to the Ethics convener. Application is waived for level 1 research. Students note that the form needs to be signed by your supervisor.

Please use Adobe Acrobat Reader to complete the necessary form. 

Research using BLUE lab

The BLUE lab has a slightly different procedure for ethics approval. Please refer to the BLUE lab website. It adheres to the same guidelines and levels and uses the same forms above.