IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Research ethics guidelines

All staff and students undertaking research must comply with the fundamental principles of research ethics and integrity in order to minimise the risk of actual or potential harm.


IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society, is committed to maintaining innovative and high quality research that is carried out to the highest ethical standards and academic rigour.

The principal consideration of research ethics and integrity at IOE is to be guided by a concern for social justice, in order to make a positive contribution to all stakeholders and the wider research community in the pursuit of excellence in education and related areas of social science and professional practice. 

Research Ethics Committee

The IOE Research Ethics Committee (IOE REC) reports to the IOE Research Committee (IOE RC) and the UCL Research Ethics Committee (UCL REC).


  • Chair (IOE Research Ethics Lead)
  • Departmental Research Ethics Coordinators or nominees
  • Two student representatives
  • At least one lay member
  • Head of Centre for Doctoral Education (or nominee)

The Chair of the IOE REC may co-opt other members as required to ensure appropriate representation of research areas across IOE. The IOE REC is supported by a team of research ethics reviewers with a wide range of subject expertise from across IOE who will assist with the review of ethics applications.

A decision by the IOE REC to approve a research project does not imply an expert assessment of all possible ethical issues, nor does it detract in any way from the ultimate responsibility which researchers must themselves have for all research which they carry out, including its effects on everyone involved. 

Research ethics and integrity guidelines 

The UCL Code of Conduct for Research sets out UCL’s expectations for its staff and students when undertaking any research. This is tied to the UCL Statement of Research Integrity which clearly sets out the standards expected of all those involved with research at or in collaboration with UCL.

Further information can be found on:

All staff at IOE are expected to work ethically with reference to the Code of Practice of their relevant professional association.

  • See codes for research ethics including the British Educational Research Association (BERA), the British Sociological Association (BSA), the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Social Research Association (SRA).

The ESRC Framework for research ethics is a useful resource for anyone involved in social science research, Research Council funded or otherwise. 

In the event a complaint or allegation of misconduct regarding an IOE research project is submitted to the Chair of the IOE Research Ethics Committee (REC), this will be investigated at local level in the first instance, in line with UCL's Procedure for investigating and resolving allegations of misconduct in academic research (PDF, please see section A6 of the procedure). 
IOE procedures for investigating and resolving research misconduct allegations will be as below:

  1. The Principal Investigator (PI) will be contacted to inform them of the allegation. They will be asked for more information and asked to cease data collection temporarily while the investigation is pending.
  2. The IOE REC will advise the PI on the outcome of the investigation and, if required, will make recommendations on appropriate action as follows:
  • In less serious cases, IOE research guidance will be reinforced and/or training will be provided to project investigators.
  • In more serious instances of misconduct, the case will be escalated to the Registrar, as per the above UCL procedure.

IOE staff

  • Members of staff must submit an ethics application form (available from the Ethics applications: IOE staff) to the IOE Research Development Team for any activity that uses data from human participants, or research methods to collect new data from human participants. All ethics applications will be reviewed by a panel of two IOE research ethics reviewers. 
  • For those planning to undertake research which come under the remit of NHS research ethics committees, please contact the Joint Research Office. Please note external approval by the NHS research ethics committees and other external committees must be recorded with the IOE REC. See staff guidelines for full procedures.

IOE students 

  • All students at the IOE must complete a student ethics application form available from the Ethics applications: IOE students
  • Students should submit the form to their supervisor for review. Student applications will be reviewed by their supervisor and another member of their advisory committee (PhD/MPhil/MRes/EdD) or another member of the course team (MA/UG/all other qualifications). 
  • A flow chart outlining the process for reviewing student ethics applications can be found on the IOE Research Ethics Committee website. Any questions regarding this process should be sent to the Department Graduate Tutor for PGR students (contact information here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/courses/graduate-research/find-supervisor) and FELG for undergraduate and PGT students (contact information here: ioe.felg@ucl.ac.uk)
  • In difficult cases or where an agreement on the outcome of the application cannot be made, supervisors have the option of referring the student’s application to the IOE REC for consideration.