Research

FAQ

Ethics - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I’m completing the preliminary questions and I’m not sure what to answer?

A: Because people’s safety and wellbeing may be at stake we generally advise that you err on the side of caution. That said we don’t want projects to go to full review when it’s not needed. In cases when you’re not sure the best thing to do is ask. If you’re a student then the best place to ask first is your project supervisor. If they don’t know or if you’re a staff member you can ask your faculty ethics representative or school ethics convenor. Finally, you can contact the central team through the res.policy@ncl.ac.uk email.

Q: The form’s not working.

A: Any issues with the form or technical infrastructure please contact res.policy@ncl.ac.uk

Q: I’m working on a collaborative project and I want someone else to complete a section of the form – is this possible?

A: Yes. Although the form is set up to be completed by one person, it is fairly simple to do. Start by saving the form by clicking on the ‘Resume Later’ button at the foot of the form. You’ll then be asked to put in a name, password, and email. Do so (don’t use your university log-in credentials). After you’ve saved the form you’ll be sent a link. Forward that link and the information you saved to the other person and they can access the form directly.

Q: I just want to use a paper version, is this possible?

A: No. The research ethics committees will only accept submissions completed on the online form and submitted electronically.

Q: I think my project needs full ethical review but after answering the preliminary questions it says I don’t need to. What Should I do?

A: Contact your faculty ethics representative, school convenor or the central team at res.policy@ncl.ac.uk to discuss. The University’s research portfolio is incredibly diverse and if the form was to cover every conceivable eventuality then it would be incredibly long and would be too administratively burdensome. Therefore we do rely on the principal investigator being mindful of any potential issues.

Q: I have approval from another University; do I still need to complete the form?

A: Yes.  Although if your faculty ethics representative agrees to accept it in lieu of a new application then you will only have to complete the summary details of your project and then you will skip through to the declaration.

Q: I’m bringing a project with me from another institution. I had ethical approval from it there, must I apply again for Newcastle approval.

A: Ordinarily not. Project transfers are handled on a case by case basis, if you do need to apply for a new ethical review then this will be discussed with you by the Grants & Contracts team.

Q: I’m based at one of the International Branch Campuses in Malaysia / Singapore. Should I complete the international risk flag?

A: Research undertaken at the branch campuses by staff or students based there can be classed as local rather than international. There is dedicated guidance on completing the form when based at an international branch campus:  University Guidance on the Ethical Approval of International Research and Research at International Branch Campuses [PDF; 156KB]

Q: I’m undertaking a teaching project, do I need ethical approval?

A: Possibly. Teaching projects can raise ethical issues either due to their content, project work or for other reasons. Although not formally mandated, it is strongly recommended that all university programmes complete the ethics form as part of the pre-approval/approval process.

Q: I’m a post-doc and I’m undertaking some research that forms part of my supervisors’ programme of research. They’ve already got ethical approval for the broader research programme. Do I need ethical approval?

A: If the work you’re undertaking is wholly (and explicitly) covered by your supervisors application and there no issues arise from you undertaking the work rather than your supervisor (due to, for example, your differing levels of experience) then, from the University Research Offices perspective the work has already been approved. However, there may be other reasons why you may be asked to complete an application. For example, your supervisor may wish you to complete an application as part of your academic development or there may be regulations on your programme that you complete an ethical review.

Q: I have concerns/questions about certain types of funder?

A: Where there is any concern over the funder (for example working with an oil company) we make decisions on a case by case basis. More information on this can be found in Appendix One of our Ethics Policy [PDF; 568KB]. If you need further guidance please contact us at res.policy@ncl.ac.uk