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Ethics applications: IOE students

Information for IOE students applying for ethics review approval can be found here.

 

Postgraduate taught (Masters) and undergraduate students

For applications reviewed by the dissertation supervisor and another academic member of staff - data protection compliance will be assessed as part of the review process.

All student research is required to gain ethical approval before starting.

Ethics review is required to ensure that the research conforms to the ethical standards expected by IOE. It is also used to assist supervisors and students when reflecting upon ethical research practice.

When student research involves particularly complicated or sensitive ethical issues, it can be referred by the reviewers to the IOE Research Ethics Committee.

Guidance on face-to-face fieldwork during COVID-19

This guidance is for IOE UG and PGT students and their tutors/supervisors. It relates to new and resuming dissertations, reports and projects, for which students would like to apply for approval to collect data face-to-face (in person). It applies from 1st October 2021 until further notice. ALL IOE UG and PGT students intending to seek approval to collect data face-to-face (F2F) should follow the IOE guidance concerning ‘Category 1 and 2’ below. All forms needed are included in the document and can be downloaded and amended accordingly.

Please refer to the guidance below. Note that students collecting data online/virtually do NOT need to follow this guidance


IOE Undergraduate (UG) and Postgraduate (PGT) dissertations and reports – Face-to-face data collection 2021/22

Guidance for students and their supervisors/tutors 

This guidance is for IOE UG and PGT students and their tutors/supervisors. It relates to new and resuming dissertations, reports and projects, for which students would like to apply for approval to collect data face-to-face (in person). It applies from 1st October 2021 until further notice. 

Note that students collecting data online/virtually do NOT need to follow this guidance.

This guidance builds on the ‘Response to research and changed contexts due to the Coronavirus’, issued in March 2020. It draws upon, and provides links to, relevant wider UCL guidance. You can read the wider UCL guidance (updated in July 2021) here: ‘Framework for starting or resuming fieldwork at non-UCL settings’. ALL IOE UG and PGT students intending to seek approval to collect data face-to-face (F2F) should follow IOE guidance concerning ‘Category 1 and 2’ below.

Students considering seeking approval for F2F data collection, should discuss this with their tutor/supervisor in the first instance. Only if the tutor/supervisor is supportive of this, should the student proceed with the approval process. Students who would like to resume F2F data collection which commenced pre-Covid-19, should similarly discuss this with their tutor/supervisor. Again only if the tutor/supervisor supports the application, should the student revise and resubmit the original ethics approval application, along with the other relevant forms as explained below.

All students seeking approval for F2F data collection are required to have a back-up plan should they have to change to online data collection due to unforeseen circumstances. This plan must be included in the ethics application as explained below.

We will update the information here as necessary in light of any developments related to the conduct of, and support for, UG and PGT student research. We hope this material supports UG and PGT students in relation to one component of the complex situations in which we find ourselves. Please contact ioe.ugpgt.ethics@ucl.ac.uk if you require further clarification.

- Faculty Education Leadership Group

For any further questions on this guidance please contact Evi Katsapi, IOE Head of Undergraduate Provision for UG and Dr Jo Fraser-Pearce, IOE Head of Postgraduate Taught Provision for PGT


IOE Category 1 and Category 2 face-to-face UG and PGT data collection

IOE has created two categories – ‘Category 1’ and ‘Category 2’ - for undergraduate and PGT ethics applications for face-to-face (F2F) data collection. Each category has a distinct ethical approval process. 
We have introduced these categories because, although we still need a process in place, the situation relating to the pandemic and data collection has changed:

  • in some contexts, processes we adopted during the early stages of COVID-19 are no longer necessary (Category 1), whilst:
  • in other contexts, at least some of the processes we created to guarantee safety for participants and researchers are still needed (Category 2).

Categories 1 and 2, and their respective ethical approval processes and requirements, are outlined below.

CATEGORY 1*

is defined as where the UG/PGT student is operating in any country context where: Covid-19 Restrictions have been removed, or Covid-19 Restrictions are still in place but face-to-face (F2F) contact is allowed

The intention is to collect data in a country context, such as England, where: 

1) in relation to COVID-19 ‘legal restrictions have been lifted’ https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#england-has-moved-to-step-4 (Accessed October 20 2021);

or

2) in relation to COVID-19 national restrictions are in place, and the student is employed in the research setting (for example, a school or centre), or has been granted access, and can provide documented evidence of permission to access the research site or setting where: 
(a) a clear process is in place in relation to COVID-19 safety
(b) this process can be followed in the research
(c) documents describing this process can be supplied 

3) confirmation, such as the link shown here, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#england-has-moved-to-step-4 (Accessed October 20 2021) can be supplied accompanying the application indicating that restrictions have been removed or allow F2F contact in the research country context at the time of the ethics application, and 

4) the student and their tutor/supervisor are satisfied that their safety, and that of their participants, is adequately guaranteed.

All students collecting F2F data under Category 1 will need to satisfactorily address the areas within the UG/PGT Risk Assessment Form concerning the hazards and risks of COVID-19, in relation to: 
(i) travelling to and from data collection sites
(ii) data collection sites or setting 
(iii) heightened risk for vulnerable groups. 

For guidance please see:

CATEGORY 2

is defined as: All face-to-face data collection that does not meet the conditions defined in Category 1.

Categories 1 & 2: The review processes

If tutors/supervisors are unsure, or wish to check, which category the research falls under, they should seek advice from their departmental Academic Head of Learning and Teaching (AHLT). AHLTs may wish to seek advice from the relevant Phase Lead. 

Please note that any F2F data collection methods approved, must be kept under review by students and tutors/supervisors in case the situation regarding Covid-19 changes. Students should design data collection mindful of the potential impact of any future Covid-19-related restrictions/guidance. This includes the requirement to have a back-up plan for online data collection. 

Category 1: Covid-19 Restrictions have been removed or Restrictions are still in place, but face-to-face contact is allowed

Students to complete:

  1. Standard ethics documentation in the usual way: the UG/Masters research ethics application form; information sheets, and consent forms:
    - In Section 2 of the UG/Masters research ethics application form, where you are asked to write an overview of your project, begin this overview by stating that this is a Category 1 application
    - In Section 2 of the UG/Masters research ethics application form, where you are asked to write an overview of your project, provide confirmation by including a weblink to national policy that either restrictions have been removed, or are in place but contact is allowed.

  2. - Include a back-up plan should you need to move to online data collection.

  3. - Note the Covid-19 precautions you will be taking in relation to travel, F2F contact, or in relation to ‘heightened risk for vulnerable groups’ even when national requirements are lifted.

CATEGORY 1 What will happen next?

(A) Once the ethics application and supporting documents, with attachments as detailed above is completed, it is approved (or otherwise) under standard procedures by the tutor/supervisor who acts as the first reviewer of the ethics application.
(B) If approved, the tutor/supervisor then sends it to the second reviewer, as per the usual process.

Category 2: Face-to-face data collection that does not meet the criteria defined in Category 1.

For Category 2, the expectation is that UG/PGT students should collect data remotely. However, if this is not possible, students can exceptionally apply for ethics approval for F2F data collection. Guidance on how to make such an application follows.

Students in Category 2 contexts considering seeking approval for F2F data collection, should discuss this with their tutor/supervisor in the first instance. The student will need to offer a convincing rationale as to why remote data collection cannot be undertaken. Only if the tutor/supervisor accepts this rationale and is supportive should the student proceed with the Category 2 application process. 

Students to complete:

  1. Standard ethics documentation in the usual way: the UG/Masters research ethics application form; information sheets, and consent forms:
    - In Section 2 of the UG/Masters research ethics application form, where you are asked to write an overview of your project, begin this overview by stating that this is a Category 2 application
    - In Section 2 of the UG/Masters research ethics application form, where you are asked to write an overview of your project, provide information on the circumstances of where data collection will take place.

  2. - Make sure you include a clearly expressed and strong rationale as to why data collection cannot be conducted remotely/online.

  3. - Note the Covid-19 precautions you will be taking in relation to travel, F2F contact, or in relation to ‘heightened risk for vulnerable groups’ even when national requirements are lifted. 

CATEGORY 2 What will happen next?

(A) Once the ethics application and supporting documents with attachments as detailed above is complete, it will be approved (or otherwise) under standard procedures by the tutor/supervisor who acts as the first reviewer of the ethics application.

(B) If the ethics application is approved at Programme Level, the tutor/supervisor/first reviewer will forward the completed form and accompanying documents to ioe.ugpgt.ethics@ucl.ac.uk in order to enable IOE Research Ethics Committee (REC) review.  The final deadline for UG/PGT category 2 F2F ethics approval applications by the IOE REC is Friday 15 April 2022.
 
(C) The IOE REC review process will follow that for staff ethics approval, as detailed on the IOE staff research ethics webpage. Please note that students will need to ensure that they allow for the additional time needed for IOE REC review. This currently stands at 25 working days.

(D) The student and the tutor/supervisor will be contacted via email with the outcome of the ethics application. 

Note that NO face-to-face data collection can go ahead unless and until full approval by the IOE REC has been granted.


Ethics Application Form

Forms mentioned above

PGCE students

Research forming part of normal professional practice, for example when embedded in a PGCE programme, is not required to undergo a full ethics review in the same way as other student research projects. These projects can be reviewed by the student's tutor. Where the tutor identifies that the project is a substantial piece of research rather than part of professional practice, the above application form must be completed and reviewed by a tutor and another member of the course team, in line with standard student ethics procedures.

Risk assessment

All ethics applications should cover a risk assessment of the research. Researchers need to include an outline of the risk assessment in Section 8 of the ethics form. You may find it helpful to use IOE's risk assessment template and you can include this together with your ethics application. However, completion of the risk assessment form in addition to the ethics application is not mandatory.

GDPR-compliant exemplars for guidance

The consent forms and participant information sheets should be used as exemplars only. Researchers are expected to develop their own forms and information sheets as appropriate for their research and not reproduce or copy the examples as templates.

All information sheets developed for research must also include a link to the UCL general research participant privacy notice.

For questions about information sheets:

    Postgraduate research students (MRes, PhD and EdD)

    For applications reviewed by the supervisor and another academic member of staff - data protection registration is required before submission of ethics application

    Guidance for changing methods due to the impact of COVID-19

    Ethics Guidance

    All Postgraduate research students are required to submit their IOE Ethics Application Form to data-protection@ucl.ac.uk in order to obtain a mandatory data protection number for their research, before the ethics review. Please follow the links below for more detailed information.

    Details on and forms for the student reviewing process for all postgraduate research students can be found here:

    Ethics Application Form

    Risk assessment

    All ethics applications should cover a risk assessment of the research. Researchers need to include an outline of the risk assessment in Section 8 of the ethics form. You may find it helpful to use IOE's risk assessment template and you can include this together with your ethics application. However, completion of the risk assessment form in addition to the ethics application is not mandatory.

    GDPR-compliant exemplars for guidance

    The consent forms and participant information sheets should be used as exemplars only. Researchers are expected to develop their own forms and information sheets as appropriate for their research and not reproduce or copy the examples as templates.

    All information sheets developed for research must also include a link to the UCL general research participant privacy notice.

    For questions about information sheets: