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Ethics in research

Read more about the policies and procedures that are vital to our research

What is research ethics?

The University Ethics Policy (opens in new window) provides a general framework for professional practice and decision making on ethical issues as they arise in the work of the University.

The University Ethics Committee (UEC) is responsible for ensuring that appropriate consideration is given to ethical issues relating to the main activities of the University, including Research, Teaching and Innovation.

The University has adopted the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) Code of Practice for research as its own, and we publish an annual statement outlining our compliance with the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity. You can also read more about the University's other research governance procedures.

Ethics Review Instructions for Staff and Research Students

Researchers and research managers/supervisors should ensure they've taken into account the responsibilities summarised in the University's Research & Innovation Project Governance Responsibilities – one of which is ensuring an appropriate ethics review is conducted.

To find the most appropriate form of ethics review for their work, our researchers can use the Ethics Screening Tool. They may also need to complete a Faculty Ethics Committee review and submit to their faculty at the ethics contacts below – our guidance on this process is available to download.

If the ethics screening tool directs you to a Faculty Ethics Committee review (or you already know that this is required) please download the application form with guidance and submit it to the relevant faculty email address:

Our Standard operating procedures for the validation and review of projects are available to view. To notify a Faculty Ethics Committee of a substantial amendment please download our 'Notice of Substantial Amendment' form. To notify a Faculty Ethics Committee of the end of a study, please download our 'End of Study' form.

Submission of Proposals to External Ethics Committees

For some research proposals, an application to an external ethics committee may be required, and any application to an external ethics committee must receive sponsor sign-off from the University.

To arrange this you must notify your faculty ethics committee of your intention so that any necessary advice and support can be provided. This will normally involve assurance from your head of department that the work will be conducted in accordance with the UKRIO code of practice for research.

The most obvious example of work requiring external review is any research involving NHS patients, relatives and carers, or NHS data. Ethics review forms part of the wider HRA Approvals process. Researchers must apply for HRA approval using the IRAS system.

There are also some other types of research that do not require the HRA Approvals process, but must still be reviewed by a NHS REC as a matter of law. This includes research involving human tissue, adults lacking capacity, Clinical Trials of Investigative Medicinal Products (CTIMPs), trials of medical devices, and human participant research involving ionising radiation. We advise using this online decision tool. Please note, applications must again be made through IRAS.

Most work funded by the MOD or including military participants (but not veterans) must be reviewed by MODREC. The requirement for MODREC review can be determined by completing the checklist.

Research requiring access to prisoners or prison staff must be authorised by Her Majesty's Prisoner & Probation Service prior to review by a faculty ethics committee.

Please note, it's University policy that only one formal ethics review should take place. If the review must be conducted by a NHS REC or MODREC then their opinion will suffice for University purposes.

If the external body states that a review by them is not required, an application must be made to your faculty ethics committee instead. For example: it is possible to get HRA approval without the ethics component of the approval, in which case a faculty ethics review is required.

For further guidance please contact your faculty ethics chair or the University Ethics Advisor.

NHS Research Passports

If you're either a member of staff or research student at the University, are proposing to carry out research in the NHS, and have no ongoing contractual relationship with the NHS, you will need a Research Passport. For further guidance, please contact the University's HR department.

Human Tissue Research

If your research involves working with human tissue you need to ensure you comply fully with the law. Guidance for Human Tissue Research is available to assist in this process.

Any queries regarding human tissue research should be directed to Dr Simon Kolstoe, University Ethics Adviser (simon.kolstoe@port.ac.uk)

Contacts

Dr Simon Kolstoe (simon.kolstoe@port.ac.uk) is the University Ethics Advisor and is the first point of contact for research ethics issues arising in Central Services and Support Departments.

Professor Bob Nicol (bob.nicol@port.ac.uk) is our Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation – please contact him if you have any concerns relating to Research Integrity at the University.

If you have any questions regarding Research Governance at the University of Portsmouth you should contact Denise Teasdale (denise.teasdale@port.ac.uk), Research Manager in Research and Innovation Services.

And to report a matter relating to research misconduct or make a complaint using the University’s Whistleblowing Policy, please contact Adrian Parry (adrian.parry@port.ac.uk), the University's Director of Corporate Governance.

Further information

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