Category / Research Ethics

Talk by Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers cancelled

Unfortunately we are cancelling the talk: Ethnographies of Memory – the cultural reproduction of militancy in Kosovo by Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers. We apologise for the late notice. This is because the Women Academic Network talk has been rescheduled this morning for the same time slot (see below). Dr Schwandner-Sievers will give her talk at a later date to avoid some people having to make a choice.

Polly Trenow (Fawcett Society)
‘Feminism in practice – does activism really work?’
Wednesday 18th November
2-4pm (with networking 3-4pm)

For any questions, please get in touch with Dr Masi Fathi (

Open Access publishing does not have to be expensive!

Nepal J Epid Open AccessAs it is Open Access Week I would like to clarify one of the Open Access publishing myths.  One of the common replies I receive from academics colleagues when raising Open Access publishing is that it is (too) expensive. This is, of course, true for many academic journals, but not all are expensive.  Some don’t even charge a processing fee at all.  Infamously, The Lancet Global Health charges an article processing fee of US $4750 upon acceptance of submitted research articles.  More moderately priced scientific journals still charge anything up to about £1,500 per article.

Open-Access-logoAcademic publishing has been big business for decades, and Open Access has rapidly become part of that business.  While traditional book and magazine publishers struggle to stay afloat, research publishing houses have typical profit margins of nearly 40%, according CBCNEWS who quote Vincent Larivière from the University of Montreal’s School of Library & Information Science.

At the same time we see a sharp increase in so-called Predatory Publishers who have set up business for the sole reason to make money from Open Access publishing.  They have not established or taken over academic journal for the greater good of the discipline or the dissemination of research findings to the widest possible audience.  Unscrupulous publishers jump on the Open-Access bandwagon BU librarian Jean Harris recently shared an interesting article about Predatory Publishers (click here to read this!).

J Asian MidwHowever, there are other format of Open Access. One of our more recent papers on research ethics was published in the Nepal Journal of Epidemiology which is an online Open Access journal that does not charge authors for publishing!  Also the Journal of Asian Midwives, where FHSS PhD student Preeti Mahato recently had her article accepted, is hosted in Pakistan by Aga Khan University through its institutional repository eCommons.  Publishing in this Open Access online journal is also free of charge.  In other words, Open Access publishing does not have to be expensive!


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen



Congratulations to CMMPH Professor Edwin van Teijlingen on his publication !

Congratulations to CMMPH Professor Edwin van Teijlingen on his latest publication about why researchers do not always seek ethical permission for health research conducted in low income countries. The authors in this paper have identified and explained five possible reasons; a) approval not needed: b) not familiar with the ethics committee: c) applying the wrethicsong committee; d) resource constraints; and e) assumption that non-clinical research are exempted, which are of course overlap and interact each other, for not applying ethical approval in low income countries. They have also provided examples of ethical approval taken from other countries than the host countries and further go on to stress that junior researchers and students should be encouraged to be familiar with research ethical approval. In their paper, they encourage journal editors and peer reviewers to ensure ethical approval beinProfessor Edwin and Professor Padamg granted for manuscripts based on empirical studies. This paper was co-authored by BU visiting faculty Professor Padam Simkhada and recently published in  Nepal Journal of Epidemiology. The paper is freely available through the journal’s website


van Teijlingen E, Simkhada P. Failure to apply for ethical approval for health studies in low-income countries. Nepal J Epidemiol. 2015;5(3); 511-515


Pramod R Regmi, PhD

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Health and Social Science

Concordat on Open Research Data

open dataAs mentioned by Emily in her August HE Policy post, a draft concordat has been published which seeks to make research data in the UK more openly accessible for use.

The concordat has been drafted under the auspices of the UK Open Research Data Forum [Note 1] by a multi-stakeholder working group, which includes HEFCE, Research Councils UK (RCUK), Jisc, the Wellcome Trust and Universities UK.  It aims to help ensure that the research data gathered and generated by members of the UK research community is made openly available for use by others wherever possible, in a manner consistent with relevant legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks and norms.

The concordat aims to establish a set of expectations of good practice, with the intention of making open research data the standard for publicly funded research over the long term.  It recognises the different responsibilities of researchers, their employers and the funders of research, although the intention is not to mandate, codify or require specific activities.

The full draft concordat can be found here –

Key principals are outlined below:

Definition of Research Data used:

“Research Data are quantitative information or qualitative statements collected by researchers in the course of their work by experimentation, observation, interview or other methods. Data may be raw or primary (e.g. direct from measurement or collection) or derived from primary data for subsequent analysis or interpretation (e.g. cleaned up or as an extract from a larger data set). The purpose of open research data is to provide the information necessary to support or validate a research project’s observations, findings or outputs. Data may include, for example, statistics, collections of digital images, sound recordings, transcripts of interviews, survey data and fieldwork observations with appropriate annotations.”

Principle #1

Open access to research data is an enabler of high quality research, a facilitator of innovation and safeguards good research practice.

Principle #2

Good data management is fundamental to all stages of the research process and should be established at the outset.

Principle #3

Data must be curated so that they are accessible, discoverable and useable.

Principle #4

Open access to research data carries a significant cost, which should be respected by all parties.

Principle #5

There are sound reasons why the openness of research data may need to be restricted but any restrictions must be justified and justifiable.

Principle #6

The right of the creators of research data to reasonable first use is recognised.

Principle #7

Use of others’ data should always conform to legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks including appropriate acknowledgement.

Principle #8

Data supporting publications should be accessible by the publication date and should be in a citeable form.

Principle #9

Support for the development of appropriate data skills is recognised as a responsibility for all stakeholders.

Principle #10

Regular reviews of progress towards open access to research data should be undertaken.

Research ethics updated forms

ethicsNew academic year, New forms!

New versions of the ethics forms available now, have a look at the research ethics page for the full details, under useful documents.

The new forms are the Participant Info Sheet and the previously titled Consent form, now titled Participant Agreement Form.

Please make sure you start using the new versions from now on, and please do let us know how you find them.

BU Ethics team

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

emily Emily Rosenorn-Lanng Research Assistant

FullSizeRender Rebecca Johnson Research Assistant

FullSizeRender[1] Sarah Wincewicz Research Admin Assistant







Financial scamming is costing the UK public approximately £3.5 billion each year. It is a problem which has developed in recent years and has hit the press because of the relationship with charity mugging, or ‘chugging’ (charities coercing people to give money). Although both scamming and ‘chugging’ result in the coercion of money from donors, they differ in approach, perception and legality. Having a charity connection gives ‘chuggers’ a sense of morality, which gives them a sense of legality, allowing them to tug on the heartstrings of consumers and persuade them, sometimes by intimidation, to part with money. Once a donation has been made, and details have been obtained, charities feel they have the right to regularly hound their donors for further contributions, and have recently been discovered to sell their details on to non-charitable organisations.

The Daily Mail’s investigation into the story of former Army Colonel, Mr Rae, highlights the relationship between scamming and ‘chugging’. Charities who acquired Mr Rae’s personal details sold them up to 200 times to other charities and list brokers who then passed them to scammers who deceived £4,000 from him.


To what extent is it a problem?

The following figures, specific to Mr Rae, demonstrate the relationship that ‘chugging’ has with scamming:

The alarming figures demonstrate the impact of this relationship and raise plenty of questions. How valuable is personal information to a charity? Why are charities selling personal information to non-charities? Where are the moral boundaries in this? What part do charities play in the scamming of vulnerable people?

What are we doing about it?

Here at the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice we are working with Trading Standards to tackle scamming and chugging. To do this we are looking into:

  • Early intervention
  • The cost to victims and the knock on effect of being scammed
  • Developing a sophisticated profile for a potential victim, allowing the creation of ethical mailing lists that charities and public bodies could use
  • Reviewing the understanding of the Data Protection Act to make it potentially easier to remove people from databases (mail, telesales and charity approach) for the most vulnerable
  • Developing good practice guides and advice for professionals working in this field and for vulnerable citizens and their families/carers.

We recognise that this will all take time, but there are steps that you can take today. You can help protect the most vulnerable members of society from this sort of exploitation. How? Have that conversation with Mum, Dad, Nan, Grandad, Aunt or an elderly neighbour. Keep an eye out for scam mail and an ear out for scam phone calls. Make them aware they have a choice as to whether to respond or not, or whether to donate or not.

Most of all, make sure they are not lonely. Time and time again, we hear how loneliness is a key factor in chugging and scamming. If we can ensure our friends and family are not so lonely, then we may be able to ensure they are less vulnerable.

Ethical fundraising : Protecting vulnerable adults from aggressive fundraising techniques

Dr Lee-Ann Fenge

Dr Lee-Ann Fenge

There is growing awareness in the government and media of the importance of recognising and responding to the risks posed by financial abuse of vulnerable older people. My last two blogs have focused on financial scams and mass marketing fraud, but it is now becoming recognised that the charity sector are also employing dubious marketing techniques to elicit money from vulnerable individuals.

The marketing techniques and fundraising methods of charities have come under the spotlight since the death of Olive Cooke, 92, in May. Although her family insist that the numerous approaches she received from charities were not to blame for her death, the fact that she received 267 charity letters in one month alone started alarm bells ringing. Some charities working with emotionally upsetting issues (such as animal cruelty) sometimes employ shocking imagery which has been described as psychoactive advertising (Bennett, 2015). These types of marketing approaches seek to evoke a positive emotional response to fundraising, but can be upsetting for those who receive such material through the post.
As a result of governmental concern about the fundraising methods employed by some charities, changes will be
introduced as amendments to the Charities Bill. This new legislation will tighten rules on how fundraisers approach people who are vulnerable, and how vulnerable adults should be protected from high-pressure marketing tactics.

Some charities have already responded to these concerns by suspending operations with call centres which use
high pressure fundraising techniques.It is interesting to note that although the government is seeking to put a brake on aggressive fundraising techniques, this comes at a time when the remit of the Charity Commission to effectively regulate the sector has been reduced due to budget reductions following the UK Treasury’s Comprehensive Spending Review 2014–15. This has resulted in a reduction in the Commission’s regulatory engagement with charities. As part of the government response to concerns about unethical fundraising tactics, Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), will chair an urgent review of fundraising self-regulation.

It is important that the charity sector develop good practice guidance which embraces the responsibility to safeguard vulnerable groups, and put an end to working with companies which use aggressive fundraising techniques.

The National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work at BU is currently working collaboratively with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) to develop good practice guides and advice for professionals working with vulnerable citizens and their families/carers about responding to the risks posed by financial scams. We will be hosting an event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science on 10th November to explore with the sector how we develop better responses to safeguarding those most at risk of financial exploitation. Details of how to book onto this event will be posted in the near future.


Bennett, R. (2015) Individual characteristics and the arousal of mixed emotions: consequences for the effectiveness of charity fundraising advertisements, International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing 20: 188–209

Impact of fatigue management research in Multiple Sclerosis – FACETS, IMSPIRE and beyond

Lunchtime Seminar with Peter Thomas, Wednesday 15th April 1-1.50pm, R303

Please come to listen to Professor Peter Thomas present on the impact that his research into fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis is having, noting the importance of research with strong potential for patient benefit, and the importance of the research funder.

Further information on this Seminar series can be found by clicking on the link below.

Impact Seminar dates 2015

There is no need to book – just turn up. Contact Zoe on for more information.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The editor is a *!@#*!

Editors of academic journals are regularly cursed by academics worldwide.  At universities across the globe we can regularly hear expression such as “Who does the editor think he is rejecting my paper?” or “Why does it have to take six months (or more) to find out my paper is rejected?” or “Why does the editor not understand how good/novel/innovative/… our paper is?  These kinds of expression of dismay may or may not be accompanied by an expletive.  Being both busy editors and well published authors we thought timely to put pen to paper and explain the work (role and limitations) of the typical editor of an international academic journal.

First, being an editor is not all bad, and is actually a privilege. It is an opportunity to nurture new authors, be at the forefront of your discipline and it is part of being a ‘serious’ scholar. However, we have been at the receiving end of the wrath of authors dissatisfied with something we did or didn’t do as an editor AND we have been disappointed as authors with what we perceived to be, poor editorial decisions!

We wrote a short outline of the proposed paper and send it to the editor of Women and Birth.  The idea was readily accepted and resulted in a paper published this week in the scientific journal.

The paper includes little snippets of insight and advice to authors.  For example, a reminder that the average editor of an academic journalist an unpaid volunteer, usually a full-time lecturer and/or researcher with a busy day job, who does most of her editorial work on Sunday morning when the kids are still in bed or Tuesday night after the second-year marking has been completed. We hope that knowledge of the editors’ role will help authors (a) understand the submission process better; and (b) be a little bit more patience with the editors.  And, last but not least, we hope our article helps the development of editors of the future.


Jenny Hall, Vanora Hundley & Edwin van Teijlingen



Hall, J., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E. (2015) The Journal editor: friend or foe? Women & Birth (accepted).

Showcasing Research Impact in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

Research should make a difference, and as the Faculty’s strapline is ‘helping to make people’s lives better’, it is of relevance to us all. Our forthcoming Seminar series will showcase some of the excellent work of the Faculty to inspire other academics and PhD students.

Further information on this Seminar series can be found by clicking on the link below. The first lunchtime seminar will be taking place on Wednesday 4th March, presented by Zoe Sheppard in R302, Royal London House.

Impact Seminar dates 2015

There is no need to book – just turn up. Contact Zoe on for more information.

We look forward to seeing you there.

RKEO Coffee Morning – Today!

The RKEO coffee morning is today in the RKE Office on the 4th Floor Melbury House (Lansdowne Campus) starting at 9.30am. The morning will concentrate on the wonders of the Project Delivery Team within RKEO, its personnel, the work they do and how they can help you with live surgeries and demonstrations on open access, BRIAN, the online ethics checklist and RED so please come along!

The Team has three specialist areas: Finance, Outputs and Governance which feed into Faculty dedicated teams. So if you want to know more about managing projects, applying for ethics approval, how to use BRIAN, Open Access or anything else Research and Knowledge Exchange focused please come along and have a chat with us, or just to enjoy a coffee and cake.


The coffee morning will be held in the RKE Office on the 4th Floor Melbury House (Lansdowne Campus) starting at 9.30am on Wednesday 4th February.


We look forward to seeing you!

Introducing Eva Papadopoulou the New Research Ethics and Governance Advisor

Hi, for those who do not know me, I am Eva Papadopoulou and I have been since September 2014, the new Research Ethics and Governance Advisor.

I am responsible for providing support and advice to students and academic colleagues on all aspects of ethics queries, process and governance. I am part of the Project Delivery Team, for more info of the team, see Shelly’s yesterday post

I look after the Online Ethics Checklist, which filters all ethics applications and collaborate with students and colleagues of all Faculties for the progress of their ethics relating to Undergraduate, Masters, PhD and staff studies/research. I am also the secretary of the Science, Technology & Health Research Ethics Panel, the Social Science & Humanities Panel and the University Research Ethics Committee.

I have been working at BU for the last 9 years, first at HSC as the administrator of the PDU scheme, then moved on to be the HSC Research Administrator and two years ago moved to the R&KEOps and worked with Business School, SciTec and finally EU projects. I am a BU School of Tourism Graduate and received my MSc in Tourism Management at 2003.

Outside of work I am a happily busy mama to 4,5 year old Kally and trying unsuccessfully to teach her Greek, latest approach is to find all words that derive from Greek, so far so good, hmm. I like to travel, usually back home to Greece and the East of England to see the family and also enjoy reading, my Kindle is like my second child, cooking and watching films.