Research governance & ethics


The University has a governance framework within which all members of Edge Hill community must act when engaging in research or knowledge exchange.

The Research Ethics Policy and the Code of Practice for the Conduct of Research are the principal documents for guiding researchers in ethical conduct.

If you would like information on research integrity at Edge Hill, please contact the Research Office.

Whistleblowers, or anyone else wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research being conducted by or on behalf of Edge Hill University, should contact Phil Bentley, Secretary, University Research Ethics Sub-committee.

Important changes have been made to the how the University manages its ethical review process for research. For more information please read about the process.

EHU researchers can log in to Haplo Ethics Monitor

Some documents on this page will be reviewed and updated regularly, so please access the version that is online when you need it, and avoid saving copies locally.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25 May 2018 and affords individuals greater control over how their personal information (i.e. personal data)? is used. This statement is intended to summarise how it affects research , although you should familiarise yourself with your full responsibilities prior to commencing your research. Please also see the University’s policy and guidance on research data management.

Questions should be directed to the University’s Data Protection Officer in SPPU.

Please note: while related, GDPR is not a matter of research ethics, so questions on ethical issues should be directed to the appropriate research ethics committee.

What does it mean for researchers?

As a staff member or student conducting research, the implications for you include:

Privacy Policy

The University Privacy Policy covers the processing of different types of personal data collected to meet its public obligations, including research data.


You will need to be transparent with research participants about what you will do with their personal data. This can be covered by a combination of your participant information sheet template (RO-GOV-17)?and the Privacy Policy.

Lawful Basis

You should be clear as to the lawful basis on which you are collecting personal information. You will need to choose one of the lawful bases defined in the legislation.

Why not consent?

While consent is still needed for the purpose of research ethics, it has a specific meaning under the GDPR if you use it as the lawful basis on which you collect data for research. You would need to be prepared to remove an individual’s data from your dataset at any point should they ever withdraw consent (see ‘Rights of individuals’), which could pose significant problems for future research.

Which lawful basis should you use?

Because of the nature of academic research and its importance to the public good – for current and future generations – the lawful basis will normally be that of ‘public task’ i.e. ‘necessary for the performance of a task carried out for reasons of public interest’.

In certain cases, you may find that ‘legitimate interests’ is the more appropriate lawful basis for your research. In other situations, the lawful basis may be something else.

Special category data

If the data you are collecting meets the definition of special category’ data, you may need to satisfy additional criteria.

For advice on the lawful basis for processing personal data in your research, please check the SPPU Information Governance wiki or contact the Data Protection Officer in SPPU.

Rights of Individuals

While GDPR updates and expands the person’s rights to see and correct their personal data, there are exemptions for research activity, or depending on the lawful basis used.

Anonymisation vs Pseudonymisation

Whether you anonymise or pseudonymise the data you collect will affect how you process, store and share it under the new legislation.


My project does not involve anything unethical. Do I still need to seek approval?

All researchers must:

  • ensure that their projects either receive approval from, or undergo scrutiny by an appropriate research ethics committee (REC)
  • be able to provide written evidence from the REC to that effect. This may be a letter or the original formal e-mail from the REC.

How do I seek and evidence ethics approval or scrutiny?

All researchers seeking approval from an EHU REC must complete an application via Haplo. Access is currently limited to academic staff and Postgraduate Researchers. If you don’t fall under these categories then please contact the person responsible for ethics in your Department. Please note that Graduate Teaching Assistants need to use their student credentials to log in. Any issues or queries can be sent to [email protected].

Appropriate RECs

  • Your EHU Departmental Research Ethics Committee (DREC). FAS only; DRECs do not have authority to grant ethics approval but should scrutinise all projects and make recommendations to the SREC.
  • Your EHU Subject Research Ethics Committee (SREC). Most applications will be submitted to the FREC for approval.
  • The EHU University Research Ethics Sub-Committee (URESC)
  • An appropriate, external REC in your discipline e.g. NHS, the university REC of a co-investigator, the REC from your previous university if your project was scrutinised prior to moving to EHU (and is unchanged).


If an external REC approves or scrutinises your project, your EHU DREC or SREC, or URESC, must formally acknowledge this approval before you conduct any primary research at EHU.

You should retain a copy of the formal notification of approval or scrutiny (whether internal or external, inc. confirmation from a REC that approval is not required) which can be presented on request. Such requests may come from funders, other RECs, auditors, the Graduate School Board of Studies (for PGRs), or other bodies.

Acceptable written confirmation will usually take the form of a copy of the e-mail or letter on which the REC’s decision was formally confirmed; without being able to provide this evidence, it may be assumed that your project has not been deemed ethical so all primary research must cease immediately.

Does ethical approval apply to an altered project?

Ethical approval or scrutiny is only applicable to the project for which approval/scrutiny was originally sought. Any changes to the project – including start/end dates previously specified – require a new application to the relevant REC.

There are no risks involved in my project so why do I need to conduct a risk assessment?

Any project can contain an element of risk. While there is no pro forma for risk assessments, the University’s research risk assessment guidance explains some of the potential risks researchers may face, some of which may not be obvious e.g. reputational or financial risks. At the very least, researchers should consider this guidance when planning their research but there may also be discipline-specific guidance or forms to complete, for example from a professional body (BERA, BPS, NHS, etc.).

When does the Research Ethics Committee meet?

DREC and SREC meeting dates are arranged locally within those areas. These can be cancelled/postponed/rescheduled so, rather than the Research Office providing potentially out of date information, researchers should approach the relevant REC to request this information. URESC meets three times per year, usually around September, January and April. Meeting dates are usually confirmed towards the end of summer. As applications normally only reach URESC via the FREC, the meeting dates are not published by the Research Office to avoid confusion although they can be provided on request.

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