Research and ethics guidance

About submitting an application for research ethics approval

Research procedures

On-campus research

Due to the ongoing reorganisation of research facilities in PPLS, it is essential that any new on-campus research study should contact to confirm that a suitable research room is available, prior to submitting the ethics application.

Off-campus research

All off-campus research, whether conducted locally (in/around Edinburgh), within the UK or overseas requires travel and fieldwork risk assessments which can be found from the link below. These should be submitted to the school for approval by emailing the School Operations Team:

All research

All studies and experiments conducted in (human) psychology first must obtain ethical approval in order to protect participants' interests and to maintain academic standards.

The Psychology Research Ethics Committee (PREC) is responsible for ensuring that all research carried out by members of the Psychology department has been subjected to the necessary ethical review. The PREC is composed of 10-12 members of the unit, with their areas of expertise spanning the diverse sub-fields of psychology. Occasionally, the committee will call upon outside individuals if their expertise would help in the review of a particular proposal.

(Old Psychology ethics system: Access for old applications only, all new applications should be submitted to the PPLS Research Ethics electronic application form below).

Ethics application

Electronic application form

All applicants to the PREC must complete and submit this electronic application form.

Electronic application form 

Participant Information Sheet and Informed Consent forms

The upload of a Participant Information Sheet and Informed Consent form is mandatory for your ethics application. The Example Participant Information Sheet and Informed Consent Form may help you in putting your application materials together (note: the example documents represent ideals; perfect compliance is not a requirement for ethical approval, though it might speed things along).

Debriefing and deception

Researchers may find it useful to include a debriefing of the study for participants at the close of the project. The debriefing process is a requirement for studies that employ deception.

If you are planning on carrying out a Knowledge Exchange and Impact (KEI) activity and you are unsure as to whether or not it requires ethical approval.

Ethical knowledge exchange and impact practices

Research misconduct

What is research misconduct?

The University of Edinburgh Research Misconduct Policy defines research misconduct to include (but not limited to):

  • fabrication: making up results or other outputs (e.g., artefacts) and presenting them as if they were real
  • falsification: manipulating research processes or changing or omitting data without good cause
  • plagiarism: using other people’s material without giving proper credit
  • misrepresentation: for example, misrepresentation of data, of interests, of qualifications or experience, or of involvement, such as inappropriate claims to authorship or attribution of work
  • breach of duty of care: breach of confidentiality such as disclosing the identity of individuals or groups involved in research without their consent; improper conduct in peer review such as failing to disclose conflicts of interest; or not observing legal and ethical requirements or obligations of care
  • failure to meet ethical, legal and professional obligations: for example, failure to declare competing interests; misrepresentation of involvement or authorship; misrepresentation of interests; breach of confidentiality; lack of informed consent; misuse of personal data; and abuse of research subjects or materials
  • improper dealing with allegations of misconduct: failing to address possible infringements such as attempts to cover up misconduct and reprisals against whistle-blowers.

How to raise a concern

To get more information, refer to the University's Research Misconduct Policy found under the "How to raise a concern" link below. If you suspect research misconduct within the School, adhere to the college-specific procedure on the same page. The University's Whistleblowing Policy ensures your protection.

How to raise a concern


Policies and guidelines

All applicants should familiarise themselves with University policy and the relevant BPS documents

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about research ethics in Psychology

Collecting data from a clinical sample

About collecting non-NHS data from participants who have a diagnosed (or suspected) mental health disorder.

Secondary data analysis

If your research involves secondary data analysis, you may still need to apply for ethical approval

Who reviews my application?

All applications will be reviewed by at least one relevant member of the PREC


Who to contact if you have a query