This week, the Doctoral School caught up with Lauren and Tim from the Research Integrity, Ethics and Governance team to speak about some of the latest issues cropping up in their Ethics Drop-in Service, which runs online every Wednesday from 14.00 – 16.00.
It’s been a difficult time for doctoral researchers, especially where they have had to adapt their research plans to accommodate the university policy on no fieldwork. Both the Social Sciences/Arts/Humanities and the Science/Technology committees have been impressed with how students have creatively navigated these changes and looked for ways to ensure that their research is relevant and able to continue during these restrictions.
For many research projects, these changes have included adjusting from face-to-face research to online questionnaires and interviews. Having the ethics drop-in has been really useful in terms of supporting researchers to think about the switch from in-person to online research and whether the nature of their research is suitable for online methods.
Lauren and Tim have also been able to provide advice on practicalities such as using the right interview platform (Microsoft Teams!), data management, assuring confidentiality/GDPR compliance, and online consent processes.
A recurring issue regarding information sheets and consent documents is that of participant withdrawal. A tip would be to make sure you clearly state the point at which participant withdrawal from the research is no longer possible, as this is often stated vaguely or overlooked. Telling participants the exact point up to which they can withdraw their data (such as a couple of weeks after an interview has taken place) will enable you to concentrate on writing up your research or collating your data without having to worry about subsequent requests for participant data to be withdrawn.
If you would like to discuss your ethics application with the team, the drop-in sessions run every Wednesday from 14.00 – 16.00. To book a slot email: