Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
On this page we have gathered some Frequently Asked Questions about Research Ethics. We will continue to add to this page with additional questions and answers.
Contact form help (CAHSS.REIGformhelp@ed.ac.uk) and they will be able to add you to the system. The LLC Ethics Officer can not resolve this issue.
Contact form help (CAHSS.REIGformhelp@ed.ac.uk) and they will be able to assist with this issue. The LLC Ethics Officer can not resolve technical issues with the form.
If you have made changes to your project that raise new ethical issues or which potentially raise new ethical issues, then please re-submit your ethics review application to reflect the changes. It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that their research has been through ethics review when changes have been made to the research.
When re-submitting your application, please follow the “Instructions for AMENDMENTS” on the LLC Ethics webpages.
The training is not managed by LLC or by the LLC Ethics Officer. Therefore, if you experience difficulties in self-enrolling for any of the University of Edinburgh-based training courses outlined on the Ethics webpages, please contact Learn Support or the IS Helpline via the ‘Help’ tab on Learn.
You must bear in mind that consent to participate in a project and consent to have data stored in an archive are two separate processes (although the consent may be sought in a single participant consent form). Some archives may have their own participant consent forms, but before using them, you must ensure that they are GDPR-compliant and in line with University of Edinburgh ethics and GDPR guidance.
The default for participation in research is to seek written consent. It is still possible to justify (and, sometimes, even desirable or necessary) to seek oral consent only, but best practice, where possible, is to seek written consent.
Best practice in these situations would be to seek proper written consent, so that you and the participant have a clear picture of what information you are seeking and what you hope to use it for. You should certainly never assume that it would be acceptable to use the contents of email correspondence for research purposes without seeking consent to do so.
Perhaps. Please use the LLC Research Ethics Checklist to help you determine whether or not your research requires that you submit a Research Ethics, Integrity and Governance Application for formal ethics review via the LLC Research Ethics Committee (REC). Please refer to ‘When should research ethics review be conducted?’ here: Ethics | The University of Edinburgh
It’s OK if you get the consent from those in the group. A WhatsApp group would generally be considered a private space rather than a public space because the entry/exit to WhatsApp groups is controlled by a gatekeeper or gatekeepers. You can not assume that because entry to a group is straightforward that the space isn’t private. Please refer to the ‘Internet and online research’ readings and guidance in ‘Ethics-related resources’ on this site.
You can find English-language templates for the Participant Information Sheet and Participant Consent Form on the Research Ethics, Integrity and Governance application page: Research Ethics, Integrity & Governance Application (sharepoint.com). Templates for the Participant Information Sheet and Participant Consent Form in Arabic, Chinese, French, German and Spanish can be found under ‘The Participant Information Sheet (PIS) and Participant Consent Form (PCF)’ on the LLC Ethics webpages.
It is widely held that young people 16-18 are generally capable of giving consent without parental/guardian permission, though there are obviously exceptions to this. Children under 16 may also be able to give informed consent but this is a matter of judgement and will require careful consideration. In addition to these general principles, please refer to “Researching (with) Children in School Settings” on the LLC ethics webpages.
If this is an isolated interview which doesn't feed into a project (such as a dissertation), and is being conducted mainly for the experience of interviewing, then there is no need for the students to go through the ethics review process. You would need to make it clear to them that any 'data' generated by the interview couldn't be then used later in a project. Students should delete all records of the interview once the exercise is finished. If you are using the interview as part of a broader training package on research, then you could get the students to go through the ethics review process. You would need to bear in mind that a designated supervisor would be needed for each student.
If the interview will feed into a project, or if the interview would be exploring particularly sensitive topics (eg, illegal behaviours, sexual conduct, discrimination), then I would recommend that the interview go through the ethics review process.
TYPES OF DATA:
1) Hard copies (paper files) – consent forms, completed questionnaires, interview transcripts, fieldwork data collection sheets.
2) Digital data – data files (SPSS, Excel), images, interview transcripts, interview recordings, on-line questionnaires.
NB: Personal data (including identifiable information) should be separated from research data, and personal data should be stored securely (i.e., password protected, locked filing cabinet). Best practice would include a separate file that provides details of the link between research data and personal data (e.g., Participant #1 = Jo Blogs), and this should also be stored securely.
If you are sure that you no longer require data, then the data should be disposed of appropriately:
1) Hard copies should be shredded or deposited into secure waste (for student projects, supervisors can assist with this).
2) Digital data should be deleted from all devices, audio devices, and drive space (see https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/manage-data/store/disposal).