Ethics checklist

A checklist of ethical issues to consider when planning research

Researchers who are planning a research project that will involve human participants may want to use the following checklist when preparing their research proposal or application for ethical approval.

  • Have you considered risks to:
    • the research team?
    • the participants (for example, harm, deception, impact of outcomes)?
    • the data collected (for example, storage, considerations of privacy, quality)?
    • the research organisations, project partners, and funders involved?
  • Might anyone else be put at risk as a consequence of this research?
  • What might these risks be?
  • How will you protect your data at the research site and away from the research site?
  • How can these risks be addressed?
  • Details and recruitment of participants:
    • What types of people will be recruited (for example, students, children, people with learning disabilities, the elderly)?
    • How will the competence of participants to give informed consent be determined?
    • How, where, and by whom participants will be identified, approached, and recruited?
    • Will any unequal relationships exist between anyone involved in the recruitment and the potential participants?
    • Are there any benefits to participants?
    • Is there a need for participants to be de-briefed? By whom?
    • What information will participants be given about the research?
    • Who will benefit from this research?
    • Have you considered anonymity and confidentiality?
    • How will you store your collected data?
    • How will data be disposed of and after how long?
    • Are there any conflicts of interest in undertaking this research (for example, financial reward for outcomes etc.)?
    • Will you be collecting information through a third party?
  • Have you considered consent?
    • If using secondary data, does the consent from the primary data cover further analysis?
    • Can participants opt out?
    • Does your information sheet (or equivalent) contain all the information participants need?
    • If your research changes, how will consent be renegotiated?
  • Have you considered ethics within your plans for dissemination/impact?
  • Are you conducting research outside the UK? Are there any additional issues that need to be considered as a result (for example, local customs, local "gatekeepers", political sensitivities)?
  • Which researc ethics committee is most appropriate for your research?
  • Have you considered the time you need to gain ethics approval?
  • Have you considered what legislation your project will need to abide by (for example, the Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act, Human Rights Act)?
  • How will the ethics aspects of the project be monitored throughout its course?
  • Is there an approved research ethics protocol that would be appropriate to use?
  • How will unforeseen or adverse events in the course of research be managed (for example, do you have
    procedures to deal with any disclosures from vulnerable participants)?

Share this page: