Data protection and research ethics

This page provides general guidance rather than legal advice - please follow the links provided for further support and advice.

Data protection

If you handle personal information about individuals, you have a number of legal obligations to protect that information under the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Data Protection Act of 1998 gives individuals certain rights, and imposes obligations on those who record and use personal information to be open about how information is used.  There are eight data protection principles concerning how personal data should be managed:

  1. processed fairly and lawfully
  2. obtained for specified and lawful purposes
  3. adequate, relevant and not excessive
  4. accurate and, where necessary, kept up-to-date
  5. not kept for longer than necessary
  6. processed in accordance with the subject's rights
  7. kept secure
  8. not transferred abroad without adequate protection

Data protection - University advice and support

There is a code of practice on current Data Protection legislation and how it is implemented at the University of Leicester. Information Assurance Services have responsibility in this area.

Research ethics

“All research should be conducted to the highest levels of integrity, including appropriate research design and frameworks, to ensure that findings are robust and defensible. Researchers should also adhere to the highest level of research ethics, in line with requirements set out by national and international regulatory bodies, professional and regulatory research guidance, and research ethics frameworks issued in appropriate areas.”
RCUK Policy and Code of Conduct on the Governance of Good Research Conduct

RCUK define unacceptable research conduct in terms of:

  • Fabrication
  • Falsification
  • Plagiarism
  • Misrepresentation
  • Mismanagement or inadequate preservation of data and/or primary materials,
  • Breach of duty of care

Research ethics - University advice and support

From October 2007 any research that involves human participation needs to go through a formal process of research ethics review. Ethical approval is needed prior to commencement of all non-clinical research projects concerning human subjects. The University Committee for Research Ethics Concerning Human Subjects (Non-NHS) oversees all matters relating to ethical approval of non-clinical research involving human subjects.

Refer to the University Code of Practice for Research Ethics and to College and Departmental resources.

These issues are of particular importance for health research.

The National Research Ethics Service (NRES) - exists to:

  • protect the rights, safety, dignity and well-being of research participants, and
  • facilitate and promote ethical research that is of potential benefit to participants, science and society.

Specific  resources includes:

The NHS Connecting for Health Information Governance Training Tool - provides a range of on-line training modules concerning management of confidential data.  NHS and University staff can register to access this resource and take the training modules.