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ETHICS AND INTEGRITY

Welcome to Northumbria University's research ethics and integrity web pages.

This page has been developed to accommodate Northumbria University's policies, practices and guidance around research ethics and in order to promote best practice for the ethical conduct of research.

Ethical approval must be obtained for all research projects prior to the commencement of the research.

 

START YOUR ETHICS APPLICATION ONLINE HERE

Ethics and Integrity

New Ethics Online System

The ethics review process is essential to the delivery of education and research across all four Faculties. The current ethics online system is being retired at the end of October 2022 and this provides an opportunity to invest in a sector-leading system that can support the implementation of new policies, procedures and ways of working which will streamline the ethical review process, while ensuring the rigour required for ethical review. The new ethics online system (hosted and delivered by Infonetica) is available for all staff and students (including London and Amsterdam campuses, and at our partner institutions).

In parallel a number of recommendations by the Ethics Policy Review Group, chaired by Dr Claire Thornton, and with representation from each Faculty, have been approved and are being implemented:

  • The creation of a College of Ethics Reviewers in each Faculty
  • The use of committee review for some complex, high-risk projects
  • A triage step in the processing of ethics applications, and rationalisation of ethics review categories
  • A significantly expanded research ethics and integrity development programme including online and in-person training
  • Improved guidance and webpages to support researchers through the ethics processes, including external approvals

You can access more information about the other changes to the ethical approval process, including the College of Ethics Reviewers here.

Why are we changing?

The current ethics online system was built in-house in 2016/17 on a platform called K2. This platform is being retired, and the University has undertaken a procurement process to find a sector leading system that can provides users with a more streamlined application.

The Infonetica Ethics Research Manager system is used by universities across the country, and in the US and Australia; it is a tried and tested system to manage research ethics applications. The system will provide a robust platform that is easy to use, and can be adapted to Northumbria's policies and processes. The ethics application that applicants complete will look like our current form, but a key benefit is that by using a smart form, each application can be filtered so the applicant only completes relevant sections. 

The changes to the ethical approval process are in part due to the revised and updated Concordat to Support Research Integrity which has a stronger mandate to monitor compliance with its commitments. Northumbria must assure its compliance with the Concordat through an Annual Report, which identifies areas for improvement and good practice to build on. A significant challenge identified in 2020/21 was the consistency of ethical review and lack of committee review for high-risk, complex ethics applications. Researchers will benefit from a more consistent review process with better guidance, and support available to applicants and reviewers. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Further Guidance

Further guidance for staff users is available on our RIS Intranet webpages, including a list of FAQs to support the change to a new ethics online system. If you can't find the answer to your question below please contact: ethicssupport@northumbria.ac.uk and we will respond to your query and add it to our FAQ list. 

Managing Existing Applications

It is important that you download any approved submissions for projects that are ongoing from the current system before the platform goes offline (21st October 2022). You can save a PDF of your application at any time. From the 21st of October, file attachments in the 'old' system will no longer be accessible. RIS will keep a download of data from the 'old' ethics online system for audit purposes. This guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to save your application and any attachments such as consent forms. 

You can submit an amendment to the new system attaching your ethical submission approved under the 'old' system. Substantial amendments will require a new form to be submitted in the new system. 

If you have any queries, please contact ethicssupport@northumbria.ac.uk

Ethical approval must be obtained for all research projects prior to the commencement of the research.

Staff user training materials and guidance

You can access more information about the changes to the ethical approval process on the RIS intranet pages

Staff applicant user guide

Ethics reviewer user guide

To book onto a Teams or in-person training session please visit our LibCal booking system.

Student user training materials and guidance

Students can access the Student User Guide

For Faculty and Departmental Support

If you are an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Taught Student, please contact your Supervisor or Module Tutor.

If you are a Postgraduate Research Student, please contact your Supervisor.

If the Supervisor or Module Tutor cannot resolve the issue, they should refer to their Department Ethics Lead.

If you are a member of staff, please contact your Department Ethics Lead or Faculty Ethics Director. 

Additional Support

Everyone can access Ethics Online FAQs here.

If you have any queries please contact ethicssupport@northumbria.ac.uk

As set out in our Management of Research Misconduct Policy formal allegations should be made to the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee, Professor Louise Bracken

Northumbria University’s Research Integrity and Ethics Contact: Laura Hutchinson, Research Policy Manager, Research and Innovation Services

General Ethics Support queries, contact ethicssupport@northumbria.ac.uk

Department Ethics Leads – click here for details (Staff only as on intranet)

Ethics Directors: 

Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences, Research Ethics Director: Professor Mark Blythe

Faculty of Business and Law, Research Ethics Director: Dr Russell Warhurst

Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Research Ethics Director: Dr Ian Forbes

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Research Ethics Director: Professor Nick Neave

The Concordat to support research integrity was revised in October 2019, representing a renewed ambition to further strengthen the original Concordat, published in 2012. It provides the principles and commitments to ensure that research produced by, or in collaboration with, UK universities, research institutes and others undertaking research is underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.

The new Concordat, released in October 2019, retains the five core commitments of the 2012 version. All those engaged with research must be able to make these commitments:

  • Maintaining the highest standards of research integrity
  • Ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate
  • Embedding a culture of research integrity
  • Dealing with allegations of research misconduct
  • A commitment to strengthening research integrity

Concordat to support research integrity - October 2019 (pdf)

Northumbria University's contact for matters related to Research Integrity: Rachel Lawlor, Deputy Director, Research and Innovation Services

Northumbria University strives to uphold the highest standards of ethical practice in research and academic integrity. Irrespective of the nature and ethical complexity of a research project, staff and students are expected to ensure that their conduct is driven by the ethical imperative of respect, the intent to do no harm and to contribute to society’s knowledge and practice through engagement in research that has beneficent intent.

Northumbria University’s Ethics in Research Policy Statement 19-20 (pdf) can be viewed here.

All Human Tissue Authority (HTA)-related guidance can be found on the new page: Research which requires External Approvals

For information on IP and Commercialisation and to contact the team at Northumbria please click here

There are various legal contracts that will need to be in place during the lifetime of a research project.  The main ones are funding contracts, collaboration agreements, and contract research contracts.

All contracts relating to research are dealt with by the Legal Services Team within the Vice-Chancellors Department and Research and Innovation Services will work with Principal Investigators to ensure that Legal Services are instructed in respect to contractual arrangements.

Principal Investigators do not have authority under the University’s Financial Regulations to sign and enter into contracts on behalf of the University, hence ALL contracts must be reviewed by Legal Services and once finalised,  Legal Services will arrange for an authorised signatory within the appropriate Faculty to approve and sign off the contract.

From a research governance perspective, specific reference has been given to the following types of contracts  and the process for each  that must be followed:

Student Placement /Student Project Non-Disclosure Agreements

Material Transfer Agreements

Restricted Non-Disclosure Agreement for use as a confidentiality agreement for research transcription services. - For staff use only

Please note that the University’s standard NDA is used on a self-service basis.  Please complete the highlighted sections (restricted access) and then have it signed by both parties.  For Northumbria, the acceptable signatories are the Head of Department,  Faculty Business Manager, deputy Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor or Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor.  Once you have a fully signed agreement please email legal services at vc.legal.services@northumbria.ac.uk, providing details of the transcription services used and for which project, and attach a final executed copy of the agreement to the email.

Confidentiality Agreement Template

To find out what types of research require approval from outside the University, please visit our new page:Research which requires External Approvals


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