Ethical Approval Process


Royal Holloway is committed to undertaking research to the highest level of integrity and ethical responsibility, in accordance with the internationally agreed Concordat to Support Research Integrity, whose UK signatories include Universities UK, HEFCE and Research Councils UK.

The University expects that all researchers will uphold these principles, and increasingly our major funders are requesting that applicants and grant holders provide evidence to demonstrate compliance with ethical standards.

Researchers have a duty to:

  • Ensure that all research is subject to active and appropriate consideration of ethical issues.
  • Comply with ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards as required by statutory and regulatory authorities, and by employers, funders and other relevant stakeholders.
  • The university supports researchers by providing an appropriate framework for ethical review of research, overseen by the university Research Ethics Committee.
  • All researchers are required to record that they have considered ethical issues before commencing research through our online process for ethical review.

If you are intending to use secondary data you must confirm that the consent form from the primary data will cover further analysis.

Ethical Sharing and Reuse of Qualitative Data by Libby Bishop

You will need to factor in sufficient time to gain ethical approval before the start date of your project.

As part of your ethics application, you will need to consider what legislation your project must abide by as well as College policies and directives.

In your application please provide a clear understanding of how ethical issues will be monitored over the course of the research activity or project. In addition please also consider how you will manage and monitor unforeseen issues.

You should record an ethical self assessment before commencing work on a new research project.  

For staff research projects, the principal investigator (PI) should complete the online process; for postgraduate research projects, the student should complete with their supervisor. By undertaking an online self assessment, researchers will be guided as to whether ethical approval for their project is required and, if so, an automatic link to the online ethical review form will be generated.

Researchers who are directed to the ethical review stage will receive further guidance to inform them whether it is appropriate to either ‘self certify’ (where ethical issues are minimal) or submit to the University Research Ethics Committee (REC).

Useful Links

Stage 1: Self Assessment

Researchers are required to record basic information to identify: the project, PI or academic supervisior and student, email address, project title and funder (which includes an option for research with no external funder). Six basic ‘yes/no’ questions are asked in order to identify any issues of ethical concern.

The researcher submits the completed self assessment form online and the system either confirms that no further action is needed or leads the researcher to the full review form. In either case the system logs the self assessment form. If no further action is needed, the researcher can download a pdf copy of the form for their project records.

Click here to open the Ethics Self-Assessment form.

NOTE: If you are on campus, you should be able to access the form directly. If you want to access off-campus, you should use CampusAnywhere the College’s virtual private network, which will simulate on-campus access.

Stage 2: Full Ethics Review

Researchers are directed to complete the full ethical review form if they answer 'yes' to one or more of the six questions on the self assessment form. In the ethical review form researchers will be guided to consider the ethical issues of different aspects of their project in a further series of yes/no questions. Free text boxes are provided for the researcher to describe how ethical issues will be addressed. At the end of the question section guidance is provided on whether it is appropriate to either ‘self certify’ the review or to seek approval from the REC. The researcher should upload supporting documentation, including participant information and consent forms, at this stage.

Click here to open the Ethics Self-Assessment form.

NOTE: If you are on campus, you should be able to access the form directly. If you want to access off-campus, you should use CampusAnywhere the College’s virtual private network, which will simulate on-campus access.


You may need to make amendments to an approved submission, listed below are some examples of potential amendments:

  • Add or amend participants group
  • Add or amend research method
  • Request additional data from participant group
  • Request an extension
  • Amendment to information sheet/consent form/recruitment documents

Each amendment is assessed on a case by case, we would ask that you seek an amendment in the first instance, in some cases you may have to submit a full ethics application.

In order to request an amendment, please complete an amendment request form. This document should clearly detail each proposed change alongside the reference from the original submission.

You must state why these changes have been proposed, how this will impact the project and so on. Should you require changes to the approved consent forms and/or information sheets you must provide a tracked copy of each document. Approval must be received prior to the commencement or continuation of the project. Amendment requests should be submitted to the ethics mailbox.

Timeframe for Full Ethics Review

We do our very best to approve applications in a timely manner, it is very important that reviewers a have sufficient time to fully review and application and associated documentation. Applications can take at least 3 weeks to review if there are no queries are raised by reviewers. If queries are raised by reviewers this can add to the 3 week time frame. Please allow adequate time for the ethical approval process prior to the start date of  project.