Ethical Practice in SPS
In the School of Social and Political Science (SPS) we recognise that good ethical practice is a cornerstone of all our research and a mark of our commitment to professionalism, including our care for our research participants, our colleagues, collaborators, and research partners, as well as the data produced in our research.
SPS attaches great importance to research ethics, and is developing extensive procedures for supporting staff and ensuring proper ethical review and accountability.
Please use the links below to find out more and complete the online ethical review.
To improve information security around the Research Ethics and Overseas Travel and Field Work Risk Assessment forms staff and students must now connect to the University VPN (Virtual Private Network), before logging in and working on their submissions. Instructions on how to connect to the VPN are available online.
If you are experiencing any problems configuring your VPN please contact email@example.com.
- Good practice guidelines
Good practice guidance is available from various sources including:
- College of Humanities and Social Science - Research Ethics and Integrity
- The University of Edinburgh - Policy on Conflict of Interest (PDF)
- ESRC - Framework for research ethics (PDF)
- UKRIO - UK Research Integrity Office
- UKRI - Research Integrity
- European Commission - Ethics for Researchers (PDF)
- The Research Ethics Guidebook
- Ethical review process for staff
All research carried out by members of the School is are subject to ethical review. The ethical review process is designed to support researchers in managing risks associated with their research, ensuring the highest professional standards in designing, conducting and disseminating research.
PLEASE NOTE: The staff ethics form and associated material has now been moved onto the Research Office intranet. This section of the (public) webpage is only updated on student ethics processes. To view information related to staff ethics processes, please visit the SPS Ethics Intranet webpages.
Further information on ethics processes can be found on the CAHSS Research Ethics site.
- Ethical review process for students
All research carried out by members of the School, including undergraduate and post-graduate dissertation projects, needs to go through an ethical review process. The ethical review process is designed to support researchers and students in managing risks associated with their research, and to ensure the highest professional standards in designing, conducting and disseminating research.
Before starting any empirical research, all students need to complete ethical review through using the support form on the SPS intranet. This will involve a series of prompts about issues which might arise during research. Completed forms will be reviewed by the student’s supervisor or relevant course organiser. Please review the important information below.
On page 1 of the form, students will be asked to specify their supervisor and/or course organiser. For PhD students or MSc students submitting their dissertation, it is important that they list their dissertation or PhD supervisor here and must leave the course organiser box BLANK. Otherwise the form will be sent to the wrong person and will not be processed. If their supervisor does not appear in the drop down list, please select specify someone not in the list and add in their details.
All of the questions asked on the form are directly related to the type of research to be undertaken and so it should be a straightforward form to complete. The form can be saved and returned to at a later point, so students can clarify any issues with their supervisors as they complete the process.
Note that if you are uploading more than one document into a form field, this must be uploaded in a single file eg a zip file.
If the research involves human participants, students must complete the checklist for either on campus or off campus research, and include it as an attachment with the ethics application.
Once submitted, the supervisor will be in touch via email to request further information or with the outcome. Students should check their Clutter and Junk folders on their student email account in case any of the communications are sent there.
If for any reason students need to update, revise, or check the status of their form, this can be done by logging in and viewing your submissions.
In case of any queries on the process or the status of an application please contact your supervision or course organiser in the first instance. You may also contact:
- Ethics template forms
We have prepared a template consent form and a template information sheet for colleagues in the School to adapt for projects as appropriate for the research.
Use of these templates is not compulsory. You can create your own versions, tailored to your own research context. Even if you do not use these templates, working through them may help you clarify appropriate practice for your own project.
For collaborative projects, or projects using oral consent, creating a list of key commitments and intentions around participant information and consent based on these templates may still be useful for sharing with team members, or documenting practice when oral consent is being used.
- Subject Area Research Ethics Leads (SARELS)
What are SARELS?
This is a new role created to expand capacity across the School for dealing with ethical and related data management issues.
These new roles are intended to increase capacity for dealing with:
- ethical review
- to provide more integration and oversight of staff and student ethics processes
- to contribute to promoting good practice in research ethics across the School
- to contribute to the development of strategy around ethics
The appointees will work closely with the Deputy Director of Research Ethics (DDoR Ethics).
These roles are appointed by the Head of School in consultation with the DDoR Ethics. The appointments are normally for a period of three years. Appointees will normally be active in research and not solely desk-based research.
Areas of responsibility
Strategy and development
- To work together with DDoR (Ethics), the DDoR (Data Management), the Director of Research, as well as the Research Support Office and other members of the Research Management Team as necessary, in order to promote best practice around ethics and data management in the School
- To contribute to the development of School strategy around ethics and data management
Research ethics: staff
- To review and sign off level 1 applications (from across the School; not all in own subject area)
- To work with DDR Ethics for review and sign-off of level 2 applications (from across the School; not all in own subject area)
- To act as the lead to coordinate the review and sign-off of around 1 or 2 level 3 reviews per year (from across the School; not all in own subject area) and to be available to sit on the panel for other level 3 reviews if appropriate
- To act as a point of contact for ethics queries at subject level
Research Ethics: students (within own subject area)
- To liaise with relevant Subject Area and School UG, PGT, PGR leads
- To liaise with Subject Area supervisors, and provide guidance on SSPS research ethics processes and requirements
- To check signoff of all Subject Area UG and PG student ethics applications by their supervisors or other staff
- To provide advice on level 2 ethics applications to Subject Area supervisors
- To act as the lead to coordinate the review and sign-off of level 3 reviews for students and to be available to sit on the panel for other level 3 reviews, or project set-up meetings, if appropriate, in conjunction with DDoR (Ethics)
- To participate in planning for support for student projects at level 2 and level3
- To participate in induction and training for the role
- To participate in an ethics and data management committee meeting, approximately monthly in term time (may be virtual or face-to-face)
- To contribute to the ongoing development of ethical practice in the School, including around data management, identifying emerging issues, addressing gaps in provision, proposing solutions etc
- To manage the ethics email box, where ethics applications will be forwarded from the RSO
- To carry out other emerging tasks related to ethics and data management as appropriate
Current SARELS (last update: January 2023)
Dr Kevin Donovan
Lecturer in African Studies and International Development
4.06 Chrystal Macmillan Building Edinburgh, UK EH8 9LD
Dr Annika Bergman Rosamond
Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Gender
Dr Chisomo Kalinga
Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Fellow
G.3, 22a Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9LN
+44 (0)131 6515118
Dr Orian Brook
Social Policy, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh EH8 9LD
Dr Georgia Cole
Social Work, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
Professor Liz Stanley
Professor of Sociology
6.22, Chrystal Macmillan Building, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD
Dr Niki Vermeulen
Senior Lecturer - History/Sociology of Science
Attic, Chisholm House, High School Yards, Edinburgh, EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 650 6396