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.
For advice and support:
- Edinburgh Research Office (ERO) has dedicated COVID-19 and research webpage and COVID-19 and research Sharepoint site (accessible only to UoE staff), including a page on COVID-19 and research FAQs
- Our colleagues in CAHSS have created this document:
- You may also be interested in: Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic (ed. Lupton D. 2020; a crowd-sourced document)
- The UKCDR have produced guidance on ensuring Safeguarding during COVID-19 in international research
Ongoing research programmes involving face-to-face interaction with human participants In accordance with government guidance on COVID-19 to reduce social contact through social distancing and avoid non-essential social interaction wherever possible, staff and research students are asked to cease immediately any on-going or planned research data collection that involves face-to-face interaction with participants. Where face-to-face interaction is still necessary (e.g. due to essential COVID-19 activities that cannot be carried out remotely, safety monitoring) researchers must produce appropriate risk assessments and a justification for the essential nature of this work, and have this agreed by their School Ethics and Integrity Committee prior to carrying out or recommencing research data collection. For non-essential research which is simply paused for this as yet undefined period, the relevant Ethics and Integrity Committee will require notification to ensure their agreement prior to recommencing these activities.
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”
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.
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.
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.
Our Forms and Resources
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.