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Guidance on completing the ethics checklist

All Researchers (including students undertaking research projects), should familiarise themselves with the following guidance (See also Keeping Information Secure and Research Data Management):

Research activities such as data collection should not commence before the online ethics checklist (including participant information/agreement forms if relevant) has been approved.

The online ethics checklist now has 4 sections which you should complete:

Section 1 – Researcher/Project Details
Section 2 – Filter Questions
Section 3 – My Research
Section 4 – Attachments/Researcher Statement

Within the checklist itself you will find a number of help guides which you can open as you work your way through each section to complete the checklist.

Amendments – requests for amendments should now be made online via the online ethics checklist.  Please refer to the guides ‘how to complete the online ethics checklist’ (links above) for details.

Online Ethics Checklist – Section 1: Project Details:

The summary should be no more than 500 words (include details on background methodology and research outputs). This summary must be written in everyday language which is free from jargon.  Please explain any technical terms or discipline-specific phrases.

Address all the questions highlighted by the checklist. Where additional text boxes have been provided you should provide consise answers; no more than 250 characters (including spaces).   Do not attach a copy of your research protocol or research proposal in place of answering the questions.

Data Collection Activities: Points to remember

If you’re intending to conduct interviews/focus groups (any other face to face activities with participants),  please make sure you attach a Participant Information Sheet and Participant Agreement Form, any recruitment adverts, interview protocol, observation schedules or debrief information sheets to your checklist.  If you’re conducting a survey, attach a copy of the questions.

  • We have templates available (see below), so please make sure you download an up to date version every time you submit a checklist for a new project.  If you’re seeking an Amendment, you may need to consider whether a revised Participant Information Sheet/Agreement Form is required.

Gatekeepers.  If you need to use a gatekeeper to access participants, please confirm who the Gatekeeper is and their involvement.  The Researcher should obtain a written agreement from the Gatekeeper, which clarifies their role & responsibilities and that they support the research. Confirmation needs to be agreed before data collection commences.

Referral Services. If it is explicit in your participant information that you intend to refer participants to third party referral services e.g. the Samaritans, the third party referral service should be informed of the planned research activity before the data collection starts; this is both courteous and professional.  Confirmation that this will be done should be made clear within the summary boxes when completing the checklist.

Questionnaire/Online Surveys

When conducting survey/questionnaires the questionnaire should include a short version of the PI Sheet (preamble) and include brief details about the research you are conducting.  We’ve provided subheadings as a guide and additional text which should be included (in blue) as detailed:

  • The purpose of the research/questionnaire
  • Who is being asked to participate?
  • Do I have to take part? – in this section consider the withdrawal statement.  How will participants be able to withdraw from participating in the study?  If the questionnaire is anonymous, you need to explain to the participant that once they have submitted their survey responses you will be unable to remove their responses because you won’t be able to identify them. Sample wording may be “It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you do decide to take part, you will be given [have access to] this information sheet to read.  You can withdraw from participation at any time and without giving a reason, simply by closing the browser page.  Please note that once you have completed and submitted your survey responses, we are unable to remove your anonymised responses from the study.  Deciding to take part or not will not impact upon [your education or studies] at BU”  This is sample wording, so adapt to make it suitable to your project needs.  Make sure it also aligns with the information you provide in the section “Use of your information”.
  • How long will it take to complete
  • How will this benefit me?
  • Use of your information Participation in this study is on the basis of consent: you do not have to complete the survey, and you can change your mind at any point before submitting the survey responses.   Once we receive your survey response, your personal information is processed in compliance with the data protection legislation.  We will use your data on the basis that it is necessary for the conduct of research, which is an activity in the public interest. We put safeguards in place to ensure that your data is kept secure and only used as necessary for this research study and associated activities such as research audit.  The research results will be anonymised before publication: you will not be identifiable.  If you have any questions about how we manage your information or your rights under the data protection legislation, please contact the BU Data Protection Officer on dpo@bournemouth.ac.ukOnce you have submitted your survey response it may not be possible for us to remove it from the study analysis, as this might affect our ability to complete the research appropriately or the accuracy and reliability of the research findings.  If your questionnaire is anonymous (this section should be amended as appropriate).
  • How will my information be kept? – This section is important, particularly if you’re collecting personal data which identifies and relates to an individual (e.g. name, email address) or special category data or criminal offence data.  Please see PI Sheet template for wording which you can adapt to meet the needs of your project and data management plans.
  • Consent to Participate-  I confirm that I have read and understood the Information Sheet and I agree to take part in the study.
  • Contact for further information: Provide a name and email address as a minimum.  For student projects, also include the email address of the tutor/supervisor
  • Who to contact in case of complaint . If you wish to complain about any aspects of this study, please contact (insert the name of a senior independent memebr of staff [normally the deputy dean for education & professional practice (for ug/pgt student projects) or deputy dean for research & professional practice (for pgr and staff projects)] via email to researchgovernance@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Participant Information Templates

Remember depending on your research, you may need to consider using a number of different forms or adapted version of the forms as follows:

Agreement form for Adults
Agreement form for parent/guardians
Assent form (for young people who are agreeing to take part (under 16)).  When involving children with a wide age range, it might be appropriate to provide separate PI Sheets for the different age groups.  Alwayss tailor your PI Sheet to the participant.

Research activities such as data collection should not commence before the online ethics checklist (including participant information/agreement forms if relevant) has been approved.

Other Useful Documents

External resources – Things to consider