The UCL Research Ethics Committee (REC)
The Statement on Research Integrity sets out the principles by which we ensure that research at UCL maintains the highest standards of integrity in all aspects of research in line with UCL’s principles: honesty, rigour, transparency, care and respect, and personal responsibility. Research ethics is fundamental to UCL's mission as a world-class institution dedicated to the continued pursuit of original knowledge and scientific advancement to benefit humanity and the world of the future. It plays a central role by upholding and supporting the ethical standards that promote the values of transparency, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness. These high standards are essential for ensuring the highest quality of research and maintaining the continued trust and confidence of the wider research community and the public.
The UCL REC is led by the Chairs Professor Lynn Ang (Institute of Education) and Professor Michael Heinrich (School of Pharmacy) and supported by the UCL Research Integrity and Ethics Team comprising Helen Dougal, Cat Collins, Lola Alaska, Magdalena Morowska and Rowena Lamb as Head of Research Integrity.
What does the Research Ethics Committee do?
The Research Ethics Committee is a multi-disciplinary Committee with cross-UCL faculty representatives working in different fields and disciplines, and is the main ethics approval body for all UCL research outside of the NHS. The REC also includes 4 external (‘lay’) members; volunteering experts who give their time and tremendous experience in order to ensure that the participants’ perspective in any project is considered in detail.
As a team, the REC reviews over 700 low and high risk applications every year, working closely with students and researchers. They ensure that all applications meet the highest standards of academic rigour, transparency and ethics, and safeguard and empower participants. The vision of the UCL REC is to uphold those standards and to this end it is expected that all those involved with research should operate within the ethical principles of Beneficence, Non-malfeasance, Voluntary Participation, Informed Consent, Confidentiality & Anonymity.
This is an essential part of the research planning process, particularly as ethical approval cannot be granted retrospectively. It is therefore imperative that researchers consider the ethical implications of their work as early as possible in, and as an integral part of, the research planning process.
Becoming an ethics reviewer
We would like to hear from UCL staff who are interested in becoming volunteer ethics reviewers; full training is provided. To register your interest, or if you have any questions about the role of an ethics reviewer, contact Rowena Lamb, Head of Research Integrity at firstname.lastname@example.org . Further information about the UCL REC and its procedures can be found on the UCL REC website: https://ethics.grad.ucl.ac.uk/members.php
Message from the UCL REC Co-Chairs
It is a privilege to serve as Chair of UCL Research Ethics Committee since 2015. My role as Chair is to lead the Ethics Committee in setting the standards of Ethics for all UCL research activities, assessing complex ethics applications and adjudicating where necessary. One of the most rewarding parts of the role is working with an exceptional group of academics and professional services colleagues who are fully committed to Research Ethics. We manage a high volume of ethics applications daily, in addition to the monthly committee meetings, but despite the intensity of our work, we always place integrity at the heart of everything we do. The dedication of colleagues on the UCL Research Ethics Committee, and UCL Integrity and Ethics Team is simply inspirational. Professor Lynn Ang
Raising the profile of ethics at UCL and facilitating research has been a keen driver for my engagement together with Lynn Ang. Research questions are complex and it is our task as researchers to see the perspective of those we work with as participants. Hopefully we all see research ethics not only as a way of empowering participants and to give them a free choice, but also as a way to ascertain that we as researchers contribute ‘to excellence, innovation and the promotion of global understanding in all our activities: research, teaching, learning, enterprise and community engagement.’ (UCL 2034) Professor Michael Heinrich