Research ethics is concerned with addressing and reflecting upon the ways in which research engages with and has implications for human and non-human subjects. This includes the interactions of research with research participants, with human tissue, with data relating to humans, with the long-term impact of the research on humans through environment and culture, and it also includes the consequences of research for researchers themselves, some of whom may be in the early stages of their research careers.
Royal Holloway requires that research ethics review should be undertaken for research when it involves:
- People (e.g. research participants, human tissue, secondary data about people)
- Environment and/or society more generally
- Cultural artefacts
- Risks to you, other members of your team, or research collaborators
As an institution, the research ethics review puts in place protocols for acting upon its committment to undertaking research to the highest level of integrity and ethical responsibility, and to its specific commitment to the Concordat to Support Research Integrity. In addition, research ethics review at Royal Holloway also incorporates protocols for assessing whether research conducted in its name complies with certain legal and safeguarding obligations.
For researchers, evidence that research has received institutional ethical approval can be essential for research outputs to be accepted for publication, and funders are increasingly including the obtaining of ethical approval in the terms and conditions of offering funding. As such, failure to obtain ethical approval can unfortunately lead to significant reputational damage for researchers and institutions.