Postgraduate Research and Staff projects are reviewed by the College Research Ethics Committee through an online research ethics form (guidance on completing the form here - VPN required). After entering the system there are three pathways for receiving approval:
When you enter Royal Holloway’s Online Ethics System you will be faced with a series of questions. If, for instance, your project does not involve human participants, animals, or have an impact on cultures, heritage, or the environment, you may be given the choice of completing a ‘Self-assessment’ review, and no further action will be needed. ‘Self-assessment’ applications are usually for research that are limited to literature analyses or theoretical research.
Please do remember the importance of honesty and rigour in the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, and how research misconduct has consequences for the integrity of your research, of Royal Holloway, and research more generally. If in any doubt, it may be best to err on the side of caution with your answers.
Having answered questions in such a way that takes your project beyond Self-assessment, you will then be presented with a further set of tick-box questions and text boxes. If you tick boxes that indicate the presence of risks, please use the text boxes to explain these risks and the strategies you are putting in place to mitigate them. For guidance on how to identify and mitigate risks, please see the next heading below on Guidance.
Depending upon the nature of your research, you may need to upload additional documents. Please see the below header for further details. Once you have completed this form and uploaded your documents, you will be given the option to either submit their application for full review by Royal Holloway’s Research Ethics Committee, or stating you wish to 'self-certify' your project. If you decide to take your project to Full Review, your project will be reviewed by:
- Royal Holloway’s Research Ethics Officer
- Identifying whether there are any obvious ommissions, whether supplementary documents should be provided, and whether there is enough content for peer reviewers to undertake a review.
- One or two members of academic staff from your Department, School, or cognate discipline (depending upon the risk level of your project)
- Reviewing and either providing feedback to improve the application or passing to Chair-delegate for final approval
- Chair-delegate of the College Research Ethics Committee.
- Reviewing and either providing feedback or giving the project ethics committee approval.
The process takes three weeks, though this can take longer if substantial edits are required for a project to receive approval.
In contrast, a self-certified project resembles the ‘Self-assessment’ route in that it is not taken to reviewers. If you choose to ‘self certify’ your project you can commence your project immediately. Self-certified projects should be of a very high standard, should be extremely detailed in their descriptions of the risks involved, have effective strategies in place for mitigating risks, and have all the required additional documentation in place if necessary. If you have any doubt about the quality of your strategies for mitigating the risks involved with your research or the documents that you are going to use then it is strongly suggested that your take your project to full review. Please also note that in order to comply with Royal Holloway's commitment to the concordat to support research integrity, ‘self certify’ projects are subject to audits by the Research Ethics Committee, and if your project is identified as one that is not robust enough then the Committee may reach out to you to ask you to revise your aspects of your research after it has potentially already commenced.