IfWH Low Risk Research Ethics Committee
Almost all research conducted in the Institute for Women’s Health is subject to research ethics approval. Depending on the nature of your project, this approval may be given by the IfWH Low Risk Research Ethics Committee (IfWH LREC), the UCL Medium/High Risk Research Ethics Committee (UCL REC), or an NHS ethics committee. If you are planning to do your research overseas you must also get permission from an appropriate body in the country where you will be working which is often likely to be a further ethics committee.
Research requiring ethics approval MUST NOT START BEFORE full ethical approval has been formally obtained.
Approval cannot be given retrospectively. If UCL deems that research has been carried out without formal ethical approval it can be disqualified and made ineligible for either examination or publication under UCL’s name.
The ethical implications of any piece of proposed research should be carefully thought through with colleagues, supervisors, mentors and in consultation with UCL REC guidelines and regulations as well as relevant disciplinary association guidelines e.g., GMC and British Psychological Society.
The point of research ethics is incredibly important. It ensures the rights, dignity and best interests of all parties involved in, or affected by, research are protected. Often this means gaining consent from informants and organisations, behaving with empathy in the conduct of the research, and providing anonymity to people and places during and after the research phase. Where, though, it is difficult to predict how proposed research is likely to ethically impact upon informants and their institutions, and/or where informants may well be 'vulnerable' and so unable to exercise informed consent in a straightforward manner, application for ethics approval requires a more detailed outline of project, contexts and methods.
The Role of IfWH Low Risk Research Ethics Committee (IfWH LREC)
The IfWH LREC reviews proposals for research that is deemed to be low risk. The IfWH Committee is charged with replicating the decision-making processes of the main UCL REC. UCL Research Ethics Strategy Board (RESB) has formally delegated ethical review powers to the IfWH LREC and authorised the LREC to approve low risk ethics applications.