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Research Ethics and Academic Integrity

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Research Ethics Review

The Laws Faculty has a Faculty Research Ethics Team (FRET).  It is available to any Laws researcher, teacher or student who has any question at all about research ethics, who may be unsure whether their research needs formal ethical review or who would like any assistance in the process of ethical review.  FRET reviews external grant proposals for ethical issues, student research projects that involve empirical research, and 1st year PhD students’ ethical statements on their research.

For guidance and advice on any issue involving research ethics you should, in the first instance, contact the Laws Research Office at:  laws.research@ucl.ac.uk   The Laws Research Office will then ensure that FRET helps you with your query, and will support you in identifying whether any further information or documentation may be required.

If you want to conduct research involving any of the following, you should contact the Laws Research Office in the first instance:

  • Interviews – formal and informal
  • Questionnaires / surveys
  • Accessing data sets
  • Observing proceedings
  • Access case files or transcripts

To find out if your research is currently exempt from formal review by the UCL Research Ethics Committee (REC) see the list of exemptions at:
https://ethics.grad.ucl.ac.uk/exemptions.php
If your research is not within these exemptions then the process for UCL REC review is laid out step-by-step here:
https://ethics.grad.ucl.ac.uk/procedures.php

Even if your research qualifies as being exempt from UCL REC formal review, it must still be conducted in accordance with accepted ethics standards as well as the recognised professional codes of conduct suitable for your research specialism.

Members of the Faculty Research Ethics Team in 2018-19 are:

  • Phil Baker, Laws Research Office
  • Professor Nigel Balmer
  • Kim Duffy, Research Degrees Programme Administrator
  • Dr Rob George
  • Professor Richard Moorhead (Vice Dean Research)
  • Dr Magda Raczynska
  • Professor Cheryl Thomas (Chair)
  • Tatjana Wingender, Laws Research Office Manager

Please Note: UCL will be issuing a new policy on research ethical review in 2019.  When that happens, this webpage will be revised to reflect the new policy.

Data Protection

Exemption from approval by the UCL Research Ethics Committee does not mean that the research is also automatically exempt from registration with the UCL Data Protection Officer or from UCL Risk Assessment procedures.  Any research activities which involve the processing of “personal data” (ie, data from which a living individual can be identified) will be subject to the UK Data Protection Laws, which is regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).   All research using “personal data” must be registered with UCL Legal Services before the data is collected or the research is submitted for ethics review.  To check if your research involves “personal data”, please see the Guidance provided by UCL Legal Services:
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/legal-services/research/research-activities
Information on risk assessment can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/safety-services/a-z/risk-assessment . Please contact the Laws Research Office to check whether your research needs a formal Risk Assessment.

Academic Integrity

Should you ever have concerns about Academic Integrity of any kind, you can find guidance in the UCL Statement on Academic Integrity:
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research/integrity/integrity-at-ucl
and you are strongly encouraged to raise any such matters with the Laws Faculty contacts on these matters: the Dean and the Deputy Dean/Vice Dean Staffing.