University of Leicester Research Ethics Policy

The University's Research Ethics Policy (formerly known as the Code of Practice for Research Ethics) provides the framework within which the ethical review process will operate across the University.

The University's Research Ethics Policy should be read in conjunction with the University Research Code of Conduct, which provides guidelines for conducting research with integrity and promoting good practice in all aspects of research.

The Research Ethics Policy applies to all members of the University community - staff, postgraduates, and students - undertaking research involving human participants.

Those projects which fall under the NHS Governance Arrangements for Research Ethics Committees are referred to the appropriate NHS Research Ethics Committee. Other projects concerning human participants must be approved in accordance with the Code of Practice for Research Ethics Concerning Human Participants (Non-NHS):


The Code of Practice for Research Ethics Concerning Human Subjects (Non-NHS) provides the ethical framework within which the ethical review process will operate across the University of Leicester. Reference may in addition be made to different professional ethical codes in relation to different subject areas where this is appropriate.

Ethical approval is needed prior to commencement of all non-clinical research projects concerning human participants, whether undertaken by staff or students. Ethical approval may not, however, be mandatory prior to submitting an application for research funding.

The full University of Leicester Research Ethics Policy is available as a PDF.

Basic Principles

  1. Researchers must respect the rights, interests, and dignity of participants and related persons in research.
  2. Research must be undertaken in accordance with any relevant common law or legislation.
  3. Informed consent should normally be obtained from participants.
  4. Consent itself should be given freely, without force or coercion.
  5. Researchers have an obligation to protect research participants wherever possible from significant harm consequent upon the research ('Harm' may cover physical harm, psychological stress, or discomfort. The degree of ethical review should be proportionate to the likely harm which may arise.)
  6. The confidentiality of information supplied by research participants and any agreement to grant anonymity to respondents should be respected.
  7. All research involving human participants, whether undertaken by academic staff, other university staff, or students, is subject to ethical approval. (For these purposes the definition of human participants includes living human beings, research involving deceased people with living relatives, and human material.) Where research projects fall within the scope of the NHS Research Governance Framework, such research should be referred to an appropriate NHS Research Ethics Committee. All other research concerning human participants should be dealt with through the University research ethics review structure. (Excluded from the requirement for ethical review is "routine audit, performance reviews, quality assurance studies, testing within normal education requirements, service evaluations, polling on current public policy issues, and literary or artistic criticism". In addition, use of published material, newspaper articles concerning individuals, or radio or television broadcasts will not require ethical review.)
  8. Both the design of research and its conduct should ensure integrity and quality.
  9. Research is to be undertaken subject to the principle of academic independence. Where any conflicts of interest or partiality arise, these must be clearly stated prior to ethical approval being obtained.

Specific Issues

This specific issues section explains a variety of specific issues which may arise with any proposed research such as, consent, use of human material, researcher responsibilities, and confidentiality.

Scrutiny of Projects by the Research Ethics Committee

The Scrutiny of Projects by the Research Ethics Committee section explains the remit of the Ethics Committee and its procedure for dealing with applications.

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