Staff and students at Newcastle University undertake thousands of (funded and unfunded) projects each year. Newcastle University’s ethics policy and procedure is designed so that ethics review is proportionate to the potential risk. The procedure is as follows:
Step 1: The principal investigator completes Newcastle University's Online Ethics Form. The form is made up of a series of questions, which aim to help the principal investigator identify whether the project is 'high risk' and requires further formal ethical review by a Research Ethics Committee.
Step 2: Once the form is completed and submitted, the principal investigator will receive a notification that either:
- Based on the answers provided, the University is satisfied that the project meets the University's ethical expectations and grants the project ethical approval, OR
- Based on the answers provided, the project requires further review by a Research Ethics Committee before any research can begin.
Note: Where a principal investigator is applying for funding for a project, at the proposal stage (within MyProjects Proposals), the principal investigator is also asked prelimary ethics questions regarding their project proposal (before the project is submitted and any funding is awarded).
Please find further information about the procedure in the sections below.
Where a project requires further review, no work should begin until the project is granted ethical approval by the relevant ethics committee. The decision will be communicated directly from the relevant committee.
Online Ethics FormOnline Ethics Form
Newcastle University's online ethics form can be divided into two parts:
- Prelimary Questions, used to identify whether a project is considered high risk by Newcastle University.
- Additional Information, used to acquire further information if the project is identified as requiring formal ethical review by a Newcastle University Ethics Committee.
Please click on the sections below for further information.
Preliminary QuestionsPreliminary Questions
The online ethics form will begin by asking for key details about the project (including, for example, the principal investigator, the title of the project, a short description of the project, details of any existing ethics etc.)
The form will then ask a series of preliminary questions to determine whether the project is considered high risk by Newcastle University, and therefore requires formal ethical review.
There are six sections:
- NHS, Health & Social Care
- Human Participants
Additional Information Required for High Risk ProjectsAdditional Information Required for High Risk Projects
Where a project is considered as 'high risk' by Newcastle University (based on the answers to the preliminary questions on the online ethics form), the form will ask for additional information, including:
- The Project Outline & Research Methods
- Data access, use and storage
- Permissions required and/or obtained
- Risk Considerations & Insurance
- Supporting Documentation, for example, participant information sheets, consent forms.
Additionally, the form will ask further questions regarding the area of risk that was identified by the preliminary questions. For example, if the answers to the preliminary responses indicated that there was a potential risk to the environment, further information regarding this risk will be required.
It is recommended that a minimum of 30 minutes is set aside to complete the additional information section of the form. Should the form take longer than expected, it is possible to save the form by clicking the ‘Resume later’ button at the bottom of the webpage. To return to the form, click the 'Load unfinished survey' button at the bottom of the webpage.
Once a form has been submitted, amendments cannot be made. Should the information provided change, a new form will need to be submitted.
Depending on the answers provided to the prelimary questions, there are four potential outcomes:
- Ethical approval required from an NHS/HSC REC (see Ethics Toolkit - NHS & Social Care)
- Ethical approval required from the Animal Welfare Ethics Review Board (see Ethics Toolkit - Animals)
- Ethical approval required from a Faculty Research Ethics Committee (see Newcastle University Ethics Approval Committees)
- No further ethical review required
Please see the sections below for further information.
Projects already granted ethical approval by an external ethics committee:
- The form will ask whether the project has already been granted ethical approval.
- If so, the form will ask whether the Faculty Ethics Representative has agreed to accept the existing approval in lieu of a new application, see Ethics Toolkit - External Ethical Approval.
- Where the external ethics approval has been accepted, the form will not proceed to ask any further questions and the outcome will be: No further ethical review required.
No further ethical review requiredNo further ethical review required
A copy of the form and any supporting documentation will be saved. The applicant will receive an email confirming the decision, which should be saved for their records.
Where a project is funded and awarded, the decision will be copied onto the relevant MyProjects record.
Ethical approval required from a University Ethics CommitteeEthical approval required from a University Ethics Committee
On submission, the form and any supporting documentation attached is sent directly to the relevant Research Ethics Committee (REC) for review. The applicant will receive an email confirming their application has been identified as requiring formal review by:
- Animal Welfare Ethics Review Board, or
- FMS REC
- SAgE REC
- HaSS REC
- School of Psychology REC.
The project will then undergo formal review (please see Ethics Approval Committees for more details). The applicant will receive an email notifying them of the decision made by the committee, which should be saved for their records. Committees may:
- Grant approval
- Request further information
- Request amendments
- Reject the application
Research must not commence until the research has undergone ethical review and received approval from the relevant committee.
Where a project is funded and awarded, the decision (and any supporting documentation) will be added to the relevant MyProjects record.
Ethical approval required from NHS/HSC Research Ethics CommitteeEthical approval required from NHS/HSC Research Ethics Committee
A copy of the form and any supporting documentation will be saved. The applicant will receive an email advising them that the project requires NHS/HSC Research Ethics Committee (REC) approval. For further information regarding how to apply for NHS/HSC REC approval, please see the Ethics Toolkit - NHS & Social Care.
Where a project is funded and awarded, the outcome of the NHS/HSC REC review will be recorded on the relevant MyProjects record.
Appealing a decisionAppealing a decision
Where a researcher wishes to appeal a decision reached by a Faculty Ethics Review Committee (FMS/HaSS/SAgE RECs), they should submit their appeal in writing to the Chair of the Committee, via the Faculty Ethics Coordinator. The Chair can reject, uphold or ask for an alternative review from within their own committee or another of the Faculty committees.
Following the Chair's decision, if the applicant is still dissatisfied, the matter can be referred for consideration by the Chair of the University Ethics Committee. Their decision is final. No research should start until the appeal has been resolved.
To view our Ethics Policy and other related documents please see our Policies Page.
Who to contact
For further advice, please contact email@example.com