Posts By / sbell

Meet members of the Research Ethics Panels

This morning we meet members from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Ethics Panel (SSH REP).

Dr Parisa Gilani, Senior Lecturer in HR and OB, BUBS
I joined the Social Sciences and Humanities Ethics Panel in November 2019 as the departmental representative for People and Organisations (BUBS). As an Early Career Researcher I welcomed the opportunity to actively contribute towards the research community and meet and learn from knowledgeable colleagues across the university. I had also attended a number of SSH Ethics Panels as a researcher and found the experience to be a positive and rewarding one that enhanced the quality of research projects I had been involved in.

I joined the Panel at an interesting time – with the Pandemic hitting just a few short months after joining. I only had the pleasure of meeting my fellow Panel members in person once before we switched to virtual working. The current situation has also challenged our way of thinking about research in the current context. A lot of our recent discussions have focussed on researcher and participant safety and formulating suitable ethical protocols for online forms of data collection – particularly the use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

One of the things I have most enjoyed about being an SSH REP member is having the opportunity to learn about the exciting, innovative and important research that goes on across BU – outside of my own discipline. Every month I’m blown away by the innovative research projects that I have the pleasure of reading about. Many of these address current challenges such as the Covid Pandemic, well-being and links to the UN Sustainability goals.

Over the last few months we have changed the way we review Ethics documents that come to the Panel. Each research project is now assigned a lead reviewer and a secondary reviewer, which allows us the space and capacity to really delve into each project we are assigned to in-depth.

Working with fellow Panel members has also enhanced the quality of the Ethics documents I produce and enabled me to further support my own students as they embark on the Ethics process. Sometimes Ethics is seen as a tick box exercise, but if anything being a part of this Panel over the last year has reinforced to me the important role that Ethics plays in ensuring our physical and psychological safety, that of our participants and in strengthening the quality of research.

Finally, there is sometimes apprehension experienced over being asked to present research at Ethics Panels, however I can safely say that we are all a very supportive group of people, who strive to provide proportionate, consistent and high quality of research across the University. I have personally thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Panel. So if you are submitting your Ethics documentation – good luck and we hope to see you at a Panel soon!

Dr Osi Okwilagwe, Lecturer in Strategy, BUBS

A few years ago, whilst fresh out of my PhD journey and as a new member of staff, I joined the SSH REP. As an Early Career Researcher, I was indeed new to the world of research ethics and was especially pleased to be offered a place by Dr Sean Beer who was Panel chair at the time. In my four years on the role and currently working with a new Panel chaired by Prof Jonathan Parker, I have come to appreciate how large the industry of research is and how important it is for the members of the SSH REP to have a real interest in supporting Social Sciences & Humanities research at BU and in protecting potential participants’ interests – to give their opinion on whether the research methodology is ethical and fair. For me it has been an eye opener working with senior and more experienced colleagues reviewing each month an array of ethics checklists submitted by staff and postgraduate research students, all who conduct very interesting research.

I suppose when people think about ethical research, they think of rules for distinguishing between what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behaviour – right from wrong! Submitting ethics checklists for an ethics review or attending an interview with the Panel for a submission assessed as above minimal risk is really not daunting contrary to popular opinion. The SSH REP understands the sometimes complex issues involved in reaching ethical decisions; bear in mind that the Panel’s aim is to promote and facilitate research at BU. Staff and postgraduate research students who submit their ethics checklist should also not despair if the feedback from the Panel entails a long list of suggestions or amendments, as the role of the SSH REP is to ensure that all research carried out, is conducted to the highest possible ethical standards for research and to provides support to staff and students planning research projects. The mixed experiences and backgrounds of members that make up the Panel allow for wide perspectives as possible. Panel members take a robust approach to the consideration of risk and benefits of a research project. Each member brings their own valuable perspective, knowledge, and experience, as well as concern of the ethics checklist submitted for a particular research project to the Panel’s deliberations. Hence, the feedback given are usually suggestions for researchers to take on board to amend the ethics checklist or to improve the participant’s information sheet; invariably helping towards increasing the likelihood of participant recruitment and of generating quality and publishable research results.

The invaluable experience I have gained from reviewing submissions and working with the SSH REP, has allowed me to appreciate the diverse nature of research carried out by our colleagues at BU and has also ingrained in me that as researchers, a key duty is to promote ethical research.

Here are 3 top tips I like to share when considering making an ethics checklist submission:

1. If researchers are new to research, do ask for help, perhaps from a more experienced colleague/supervisor or send an email to the Research ethics team with any questions.

2. Complete the ethics checklist carefully and read the guidance on the documents to be submitted along with the checklist.

3. Spend a considerable amount of time on the Participant Information Sheet; the adequacy of consent is important. So do identify any contentious issues there may be in conducting the research.

Meet members of the Research Ethics Panels

On Monday we focussed on the work of the Research Ethics Panel and yesterday we heard from Dr Orlanda Harvey who visited the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Panel as part of her PhD journey.

Today you get to meet some of its members with the focus on the Science, Technology & Health Research Ethics Panel (STH REP).

 

Dr Liam Wignall (Psychology Department)

My research explores different aspects of sex and sexuality, looking at sexual identities and the experiences of non-heterosexuals; changing sexual practices, including during COVID-19kink activities and the changing role of the internet. Given my research interests on the often personal topic of sexuality, I am keenly aware of the need to consider the ethical implications of any research conducted. I have sat on numerous ethics panels and had fascinating discussions about my research and the ethical considerations. This has ranged from thinking about the wording of the questions and how participants may perceive them, to making sure I think of my own safety when collecting data in the field. These discussions forced me to think about how I conduct research and providing justifications for each step, ultimately improving my studies.

I became a member of the panel so that I could offer the same advice to others when they were conducting research, asking other researchers the same questions that I was once asked: “What precautions have you taken should things go wrong?”; “How are you protecting yourself when conducting research on a sensitive topic?”; “Do participants know what will happen to their data?” Often when conducting research, we can become so focused on one aspect of the project that it’s helpful for others to ask these questions – I see this as one of the jobs of the ethics panel.

The principal role of the STH REP is to ensure that all research is conducted in an ethical way, following principles and procedures set out by BU and associated bodies (e.g., British Psychological Society). I see my role on the panel as encouraging researchers to consider how they can follow these guidelines to conduct great research. Ethics is not about preventing research from being done, it’s thinking about how good research can be done in an ethical way.

On a personal note, it’s also amazing to see the range of research projects being conducted at Bournemouth University. Being on the panel allows me to chat with colleagues across the faculty and ask them about their research. As a panel, we have had ethical discussions relating to how technology can improve the lives of people with physical disabilities; the intricacies of how dating profiles are used; and how to explain research to children to ascertain consent. Three-hour meetings can just fly by…

Dr. Sofia Meacham (Senior Lecturer in Computing Department of Computing and Informatics)

“Why did I become a member?”

I became a member of the STH REP three years ago through my strong interest on the subject as part of my own research. Specifically, ethical considerations for Artificial Intelligence decision making and their acceptance from scientific and wider community was the matter that I came across first in my research. This raised an interest in how the two worlds: technical achievement and ethical considerations can be combined and the challenges arising from this combination can be overcome. Finding a community of like-minded academics from several fields was obviously the next step to progress this interest, get accustomed with BU’s processes on the matter and contribute through my previous knowledge on technical and ethical matters. Last but not least, ethics has been an integral part of my education from an early stage such as primary school through ancient Greek philosophy and family traditions.

“What do you like about being a member?”

After becoming a member and although the participation is voluntarily, I enjoyed every aspect of it. Without exaggeration, I have been given the option to reduce my workload by stepping down which I have rejected! Being a member, the panel discussions once a month provide a multi-disciplinary approach opening my personal horizons and patterns of thought. There is a democratic handling of all opinions and there is not a single meeting that was not beneficial and enjoyable. Although the panel meetings are taking place with a pleasant environment, the responsibility that the committee has to academia and the society is being taken very seriously.

Last but not least, I would like to emphasize that ethical considerations are of increasing importance in todays rapid technological and other developments. Academia should play integral role to ensure that research developments are performed in alignment with ethical considerations and STH REP is an excellent place within our BU academic community.

Thank you Liam and Sofia!

Tomorrow you get to meet members from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Ethics Panel

What it’s like to attend a Research Ethics Panel …. A PGR’s account

Undertaking Research – Facing the BU Ethics Panel

By Orlanda Harvey

When you start your PhD journey, one of the first hurdles that you face is gaining Ethical Approval for your study. This can be a very daunting concept at the beginning, as it is often a complete unknown, or it was for me, as this was the first time I had to go through the process. Looking back now; from the very comfortable vantage point of having achieved my doctorate, it is easy to forget the anxiety and mystique surrounding this process. Questions such as: What happens if I do not get approval? dominated my thoughts. I was one of the lucky ones, for although I was seeking approval to investigate people’s experiences of using substances (In this case Anabolic Androgenic Steroids) which would mean I would have to face the BU panel, I did not need NHS ethical approval. Sitting in an office (the joy of life pre-Covid) alongside peers who were facing that experience made me very thankful, for small mercies, as although the BU process feels as if it takes a long time comparatively, with hindsight it is efficient. This, however, does not mean to say that I did not experience a few bumps in the road.

The key to success for me was advice from my Supervisory Team to ensure that I took time to get all my ducks in a row prior to submission and to take the time to prepare all my information sheets and paperwork. This was valuable as there were no changes required to my initial submission, and it went straight through to the panel. I had also looked at the panel meeting deadlines so that I could plan for my submission date and sought advice from the Research Development and Support (Governance) Team to clarify a few points. Going through the online documentation felt a little bureaucratic and at times repetitive but it was very straightforward and easy to use. It certainly made the write up of the ethics and methodology element chapters of the Thesis easier; as one of my supervisors is prone to say, no writing, when it relates to your study, is ever wasted (thank you Edwin).

The panel meeting itself was an interesting experience, for although my supervisor was there to support me (thank you Margarete) it was very clear that the focus was on me and my plans for the research, so all the questions were directed my way. At first, I was apprehensive but actually the experience turned out to be quite enjoyable. After all, at that point I was incredibly enthusiastic about my project and these people wanted me to talk about it! I later learnt to treasure such moments. The questions they asked came from a place of curiosity, and it was not long into the meeting before I realised that they were interested in supporting the research and were ensuring that I had considered key ethical points. If I am totally honest there was only one question that I found a little left field, but you are never going to agree with everything.

It was not all plain sailing, I did pass the panel but still had the email with, a few minor amendments needed. However, these were easily resolved, added clarity to the participant information sheets and could be covered by just replying with the amendments to the panel chair. Overall, the whole experience was beneficial to both my development as a researcher, and my understanding of the ethics challenges.  The positive comments from the panel also proved to be a bolster to my confidence at that early stage in my PhD Journey.

A final unexpected outcome was that, as a result of going through the checklist I had to consider if my population was vulnerable, as people who use illicit drugs are quite often are given this label as a de-facto result of their drug use. This was interesting as although they were using drugs that although not illegal, they do fall into a grey area of the law and was something that we discussed at Panel. This made me think more deeply about the population as a whole, and as a result ended up in me writing a short paper, which was published on the ethics of using AAS and the perceived vulnerability of this group: ‘Shades of Grey’: The Ethics of Social Work Practice in Relation to Un-prescribed Anabolic Androgenic Steroid Use,  which, brings me back to Edwin’s sage advice: nothing you write should ever be wasted 🙂

The role of the Research Ethics Panels at BU

Since 2014, the Social Sciences & Humanities (SSH) and Science, Technology & Health (STH) Research Ethics Panels have reviewed and continue to review ethics checklists submitted by staff and postgraduate research students (above minimal risk only). Their role is to review the ethical aspects of the study to facilitate high quality, safe research practice.  This may be involve a light-touch process if the research is deemed low risk, or it may include an interview with the Panel if it is assessed as above minimal risk.

When first established, the Panels were chaired by Dr Sean Beer (SSH REP) and the late Prof Holger Schutkowski (STH REP) who worked hard to establish the process we have today.  The current Panel Chairs are Profs Jonathan Parker (SSH REP) and Sam Porter (STH REP) who picked up the reins in February 2019 to continue and champion the work of the Panels and who work tirelessly to support our research community.

The Chairs are assisted by Deputy Chairs, Prof Richard Berger (SSH REP) and Dr Jayne Caudwell (STH REP) and academics colleagues from across BU and representatives from Professional Services and independent lay members.  Together, members have a wide range of experience and expertise.  This allows the Panel to provide well structured, consistent and balanced opinions when considering the ethical viability of projects submitted for review.

Support for the panels is provided Sarah Bell (SSH REP), who is the University’s Research Governance Advisor, and Suzy Wignall (STH REP), who is the Clinical Governance Advisor. They are happy to answer any queries that you may have.

Going through the process of an ethics review shouldn’t be a tick box exercise that is forgotten about once a favourable opinion is secured.  This isn’t what the process is about.  Ethical issues can occur at any time throughout the life cycle of a research project – when recruiting participants, in process of analysing data, in the reporting of research results.  Your ethics review is a living document that should be referred to and updated as and when appropriate.

Members are approachable should you have questions before you submit an ethics checklist and there is plenty of guidance available via the research governance & integrity website.  Never think you are alone in the process.  We are here to help and be a source of support throughout the life cycle of your research project.

Updated guidance for off campus (outside of the home) research and knowledge exchange activities

In light of the Government’s announcement that new national restrictions will come into force on 5th November to curb the spread of COVID-19, BU’s Major Incident Group has announced that non-essential travel should not take place during this second ‘lockdown’ period.

Therefore, research and knowledge exchange activities which take place off-campus and outside of the home should be reviewed in light of the latest government guidance on essential work. If these activities can be undertaken in a compliant way, the risk assessment should be updated and approved by the relevant Executive Dean. If they cannot be undertaken under the new lockdown conditions, they should pause for the next four weeks.

For colleagues that have previously completed the return to research process and/or undertaking research in the context of COVID-19 process, and have received a letter stating that they can undertake research off-campus, this permission is now paused until restrictions are lifted. If you have reviewed the activities, still wish to proceed and have the approval from your Executive Dean, please email sia@bournemouth.ac.uk and an appropriate letter will be issued. It is recommended that before requesting permission to proceed with research activities, that you read the latest government guidance on research.

This is important as although BU’s campuses have been made COVID-19 secure enabling you to continue to come into work, this cannot be guaranteed in off-campus locations, and therefore careful consideration needs to be taken as to the feasibility of research proceeding between now and 2nd December.

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU

On Tuesday 19 May (11 am – 1 pm), RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on research ethics focusing on navigating the online ethics checklist and the review and approval process.  So if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or in need of a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is open to Researchers (staff).  Details of workshops available to Postgraduate Research Students can be accessed via Brightspace.

Workshop Aims:

How to navigate the online ethics checklsit and the review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified.  By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • The process for gaining ethics approval
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU

On Tuesday 19 May (11 am – 1 pm), RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on research ethics focusing on navigating the online ethics checklist and the review and approval process.  So if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or in need of a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is open to Researchers (staff).  Details of workshops available to Postgraduate Research Students can be accessed via Brightspace.

Workshop Aims:

How to navigate the online ethics checklsit and the review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified.  By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • The process for gaining ethics approval
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU workshop

On Tuesday 19 May (11 am – 1 pm), RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on research ethics focusing on navigating the online ethics checklist and the review and approval process.  So if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or in need of a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is open to Researchers (staff).  Details of workshops available to Postgraduate Research Students can be accessed via Brightspace.

Workshop Aims:

How to navigate the online ethics checklsit and the review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified.  By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • The process for gaining ethics approval
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU workshop

On Tuesday 8 October 2019, RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on the review and approval process at BU, so if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or you’d like a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is designed to assist Researchers (staff) in the process of obtaining ethical approval.

The review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified. What makes a good an application and how to create and submit an online ethics checklist.

By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • The process for gaining ethical approval
  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

Research Ethics – Resources

When involving research participants in your activities, it’s important to provide them with all the information they require to make an informed decision on whether or not they wish to participate.  We’ve recently updated the Participant Information Sheet, so please download the latest version of the template available from the research ethics blog.

We’ve also added  ‘Research Ethics FAQs‘ as a new resource, which we hope you’ll find useful!

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU workshop

On Tuesday 8 October 2019, RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on the review and approval process at BU, so if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or you’d like a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is designed to assist Researchers (staff) in the process of obtaining ethical approval.

The review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified. What makes a good an application and how to create and submit an online ethics checklist.

By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • The process for gaining ethical approval
  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

RKEDF – Research Ethics @ BU workshop

On Tuesday 8 October 2019, RDS are running a practical 2 hour workshop on the review and approval process at BU, so if you’re in the process of putting together an ethics application or you’d like a refresher, this workshop is for you.

The workshop is designed to assist Researchers (staff) in the process of obtaining ethical approval.

The review and approval process will be discussed, including how risk is identified. What makes a good an application and how to create and submit an online ethics checklist.

By the end of this workshop you will have an understanding about:

  • The process for gaining ethical approval
  • How to complete an online ethics checklist
  • What makes a good application

If you’re interested in attending then reserve your place via Organisational Development.

Reminder: Research Ethics Panel meetings in August

A Reminder for Staff and Postgraduate Researchers

There are NO Research Ethics Panel (REP) meetings held during August, so if you’re hoping to start data collection activities over the summer and are in the process of completing your research ethics checklist, please keep this in mind when planning your research activities and submit your checklist in time for the final REP meetings to be held in July.  Checklists received during August which need to be reviewed by full Panel will be deferred until September (dates to be advised).

REPs review all staff projects and postgraduate research projects which have been identified as above minimal risk through the online ethics checklist.  Details on what constitutes high risk can be found on the research ethics blog.

There are two central REPs:

Science, Technology & Health
Social Sciences & Humanities
Staff/PGR ‘above minimal risk’ projects are reviewed by full REP and Researchers (including PGR Supervisors) are normally invited to Panel for discussions.

Staff Projects which are ‘low risk’

Reviews for low risk projects will continue as normal during August (via email), although turnaround may take longer than normal due to Reviewer availability during this month.

PGR Projects which are ‘low risk’

There are no changes to the review and approval process for low risk PGR projects and reviews will continues as normal throughout August, again subject to Reviewer (Ethics champions) availability.

More details about the review process and REP meeting dates can be found on the Research Ethics Blog.  Email enquiries should be sent to researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Reminder: Research Ethics Panel meetings in August

A Reminder for Staff and Postgraduate Researchers

There are no Research Ethics Panel (REP) meetings held during August, so if you’re hoping to start data collection activities over the summer and are in the process of completing your research ethics checklist, please keep this in mind when planning your research activities and submit your checklist in time for the final REP meetings to be held in July.  Checklists received during August which need to be reviewed by full Panel will be deferred until September (dates to be advised).

REPs review all staff projects and postgraduate research projects which have been identified as above minimal risk through the online ethics checklist.  Details on what constitutes high risk can be found on the research ethics blog.

There are two central REPs:

  • Science, Technology & Health
  • Social Sciences & Humanities

Staff/PGR ‘above minimal risk’ projects are reviewed by full REP and Researchers (including PGR Supervisors) are normally invited to Panel for discussions.

Staff Projects which are ‘low risk’

Reviews for low risk projects will continue as normal during August (via email), although turnaround may take longer than normal due to Reviewer availability during this month.

PGR Projects which are ‘low risk’

There are no changes to the review and approval process for low risk PGR projects and reviews will continues as normal throughout August, again subject to Reviewer (Ethics champions) availability.

More details about the review process and REP meeting dates can be found on the Research Ethics Blog.  Email enquiries should be sent to researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Reminder: Research Ethics Panel meetings in August

A Reminder for Staff and Postgraduate Researchers

There are no Research Ethics Panel (REP) meetings held during August, so if you’re hoping to start data collection activities over the summer and are in the process of completing your research ethics checklist, please keep this in mind when planning your research activities and submit your checklist in time for the final REP meetings to be held in June and July.  Checklists received during August which need to be reviewed by full Panel will be deferred until September (dates to be advised).

REPs review all staff projects and postgraduate research projects which have been identified as above minimal risk through the online ethics checklist.  Details on what constitutes high risk can be found on the research ethics blog.

There are two central REPs:

  • Science, Technology & Health
  • Social Sciences & Humanities

Staff/PGR ‘above minimal risk’ projects are reviewed by full REP and Researchers (including PGR Supervisors) are normally invited to Panel for discussions.

Staff Projects which are ‘low risk’

Reviews for low risk projects will continue as normal during August (via email), although turnaround may take longer than normal due to Reviewer availability during this month.

PGR Projects which are ‘low risk’

There are no changes to the review and approval process for low risk PGR projects and reviews will continues as normal throughout August, again subject to Reviewer (Ethics champions) availability.

More details about the review process and REP meeting dates can be found on the Research Ethics Blog.  Email enquiries should be sent to researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Reminder: Research Ethics Panel meetings in August

Planning Ahead – A Reminder for Staff and Postgraduate Researchers

If you’re hoping to start data collection activities in September and are in the process of completing your research ethics checklist, please remember that during August there are NO Research Ethics Panel (REP) Meetings.  If you want to start your data collection activity in August/September, please submit your checklist in time for final Panel meetings to be held in June and July.  Checklists received during August which need to be reviewed by full Panel will be deferred until September (dates to be advised).

REPs review all staff projects and postgraduate research projects which have been identified as above minimal risk through the online ethics checklist.  Details on what constitutes high risk can be found on the research ethics blog.

There are two central REPs:

  • Science, Technology & Health
  • Social Sciences & Humanities Research Ethics Panel

Staff/PGR above minimal risk projects are reviewed by full REP and Researchers (including PGR Supervisors) are normally invited to Panel for discussions.

Staff low risk projects are reviewed by member(s) of REP via email.

Staff Projects which are ‘low risk’

Reviews for low risk projects will continue as normal during August, although turnaround may be longer than normal due to Reviewer availability during this month.

PGR Projects which are ‘low risk’

The review and approval process for low risk PGR projects continues as standard.

More details about the review process and REP meeting dates can be found on the Research Ethics Blog.  Email enquiries should be sent to researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk.