GeoSciences Research Ethics & Integrity

Information about the Ethics & Research Integrity support within the school

The University of Edinburgh has a commitment to promote and facilitate the conduct of research ethics and integrity. Information about this commitment is available from the University's Edinburgh Research Office on Research Integrity and the College's research ethics framework web page which provides additional information on other policies and advice.  The College of Science and Engineering has adopted the UK Research Integrity Office’s Code of Practice for Research and the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, embedding those in School-specific policies. The College has developed a Research Ethics and Integrity framework that suits its disciplines. In practice, the seven academic Schools are responsible for implementing those guidelines at a local level. The College also provides an online ethics and integrity training programme. 

School of GeoSciences Research Ethics & Integrity and COVID-19

If you are conducting urgent research on COVID-19 related issues, do let us know if you need us to fast-track your ethics application when you submit it. We will aim to reply to you within a week.

Re-Starting face-to-face research

Whether based in Edinburgh, elsewhere in the UK or in another country, proposed activities must be able to comply with local physical distancing measures. You should refer to the Decision Making Flowchart and Risk Assessment documents on the Business Travel website for further guidance. This is in the context of business travel – but the flowchart also covers if the person is already in-country.

From the flowchart: If proposed activities comply with local government guidance such as physical distancing at site of fieldwork? = Yes, then a TRA1 –CV19 risk assessment form must be completed and can be signed off by Head of School.  

Approval to start/restart research is then subject to:

  1. Other approvals (include ethical, governance approval, insurance, collaborator agreements etc.)
  2. Continual review and response to changes in local Covid-19 related […]

Staff and students undertaking field work may also wish to complete the Fieldwork risk assessment at however, the TRA1 –CV19 form could also be used to cover these risks if desired.

For advice and support:


1.       Paper: Key Ethical Concepts and their application to COVID-19 Research, Dawson et al, relating in particular to human participant research.

2.       Compilation of ethics guidance produced by Scottish Universities relating to various aspects of conducting research during the pandemic.

3.       UKRIO - Recommended Checklist for Research Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ongoing research involving remote interaction with human participants

We share this advice from ‘Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic’: “You will also need to consider the ‘affective atmospheres’ of conducting any kind of social research in a pandemic, when normal routines are disrupted and many people are feeling uncertain and worried, or are ill or caring for ill family members. People may be living in environments where they are subjected to harassment, violence or surveillance by other family members. Privacy issues are very important to consider in these contexts. On the other hand, with people more confined, feeling bored or restless but in good health, they may welcome the opportunity to be part of a research project. Consider your target participant group very carefully when making decisions about the best way forward”

Blogs on the ethics of research during COVID-19


Purpose of Ethical Standards

In line with this Research ethics framework the School of GeoSciences attaches great importance to addressing the ethical implications of all research activities carried out by its members, be they undergraduates, postgraduates or academic members of staff. Attention to the ethical and legal implications of research for researchers, research subjects, sponsors and collaborators is an intrinsic part of good research practice.

School Process

The School Ethics process requires you to complete an Ethics Assessment Form and refer to the one or both sets of Ethics Guidance Notes for further information. If your research involves human subjects or is work in sensitive environments it is likely that you will be required to fill out the assessment as a Full Ethical Assessment.


Guidance for Ethical Research and Review in the School of GeoSciences

Our Forms and Resources

Collection of resources available


Beyond the research ethics and integrity assessment form and guidance, the School policy on research ethics and integrity emphasizes improving ethical awareness as part of a broader collaborative commitment to cultivating professional research training.

The Committee

The School's Ethics Committee was established in early 2008 in response to the School's ethics procedure initiatives. It's role is to establish and manage Research Ethics and Integrity procedures in the School.

To whom do these Procedures apply?

The School ethics procedures apply to any person in the School of GeoSciences who conducts advanced research, and includes academics, emeritus staff, teaching staff, undergraduate honours students, postgraduates (Masters and PhD), 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.