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Information for Researchers

Information for Researchers Submitting for an Ethics Review

Research Ethics applies to all members of University College Dublin who conduct research that involves human and animal subjects. Prospective researchers are encouraged to explore the policies and guidelines throughout this website.

Researchers submitting to the Animal Research Ethics Committee should consult the (opens in a new window)AREC Intranet

Preparing your Submission for an Ethics Review

Whether submitting for a full ethics review or a low risk study review you, the researcher, should prepare your application by anticipating what you want to achieve with your study.  No two studies are exactly the same, so no one-size-fits-all submission can be applied to an individual research study.
Researchers have a duty of care in their recruitment of potential participants and should be clear at the start of their ethics submisison what their inclusion and exclusion criteria will be.  Please see the sections on Vulnerable Groups, Research with Students and the UCD Guideline on Recruiting Participants.
For human research there are three key areas that researchers should pay particular attention to:
  1. Informed Consent:
    • providing your participant with a detailed Participant information Leaflet about your study and what it will mean for them to participate;
    • providing a consent form that is separate from the information sheet and that anticipates all of the uses the researcher is proposing for the data collected, providing the participant with the choice of opting into all, or some, aspects of the study;
    • Further information on support documents can be found here.
    • Please also read the (opens in a new window)National Consent Policy and (opens in a new window)Guidance on Personal Data in health research.
  2. Data Management:
    • it is up to the researcher to future-proof the data so that you have permission to use/share later on. A researcher can only use data that was consented to at the time of the participant's recruitment.
    • creating a clear data managment plan is the best practice in research and a variety of useful guides can be found in the UCD Library guides  and the UCD GDPR website resources on data collection.
    • For more information on Research Ethics & Data Management in general please see here.
  3. Ethical Dilemmas depending on the nature of the research the ethical dilemmas (not to be confused with risks) will vary and will include some of the following, although not limited to the list below:
    • Vulnerability: recognise where participants are vulnerable even if not listed as a vulnerable group;
    • Power Imbalance: for example between staff and students. Researchers should aim for clarity and transparancy of purpose to avoid misundertanding or undue stress;
    • Upset or Distress: ideally avoid situations where this will arise but be aware of how it can manifest especially in interviews and focus groups;
    • Confidentiality: note the importance of preserving confidentiality and anonymity of participants, and that you cannot guarantee confidentiality in focus groups;
    • Assurances: provide details of how you will manage the ethical dilemmas that arise in your study:
      • this may inlcude citing standard best practices from the professional body that governs your discipline, or might include a specific protocol that you will put in place to mitigate against potential risks for a specific aspect of your study.
      • you should demonstrate that you have thought about what effect your study could have on a participant and how you are going to limit that effect or manage it to safeguard your participants.

Researcher's Responsibilities

  • Please note that obtaining ethics approval, and the management of all documentation associated with the submission, is the sole responsibility of the researcher.
  • The Office of Research Ethics cannot be held responsible for record keeping on behalf of the researcher.  It is advisable that all researchers keep a copy of their submission documents. 
  • The Office of Research Ethics has no active role in any correspondence between researchers and third parties, i.e. competent authorities, funding agencies, other Research Ethics Committees etc. However, we may assist researchers with advice about how best to proceed,  subject to a request to the relevant email address here.

Contact UCD Office of Research Ethics

UCD Research, Tierney Building, Belfield, Dublin 4.
E: research.ethics@ucd.ie