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Research Ethics

The University subscribes and conforms to the principles of the Research Councils UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, and the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

In this regard, the remit of the Brunel University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) is to oversee all research ethics matters concerning research conducted by Brunel University London staff and students which involves human participants, their tissue, and their data, and:

  • To provide a research ethics framework to maintain policies, processes and procedures (including codes of practice where appropriate) to ensure that all research conducted within the University meets the University’s ethical standards.
  • To be accountable to the Council and Senate of the University and have independent, delegated authority from Council and Senate to approve, with or without modification, or to reject proposals for research, or proposals which are referred to it on ethical grounds.
  • To ensure researchers are aware of the systems in place, and have access to all relevant guidance and legal and ethical frameworks. The Committee is responsible for producing guidance documentation available on its dedicated intranet site, and takes all reasonable steps to embed a culture and awareness of ethics in research within the University, with particular reference to training in research ethics.
  • To require reports from UREC Sub-committees, Colleges and Institutes.
  • To ensure awareness of research ethics issues throughout the University as determined by current and relevant national and international codes of best practice.
  • To provide an annual report to Council and Senate (with copies to note to the Research Strategy Committee and the Research Knowledge and Transfer Committee).

Powers of research ethics review and approval are devolved to the three Colleges of the University, the management of which is devolved from the College Dean, through a vice dean, with designated responsibility to the College Research Manager. Each college is required to establish and maintain a College Research Ethics Committee (CREC). The CRECs are accountable to the UREC. 

The UREC has a number of Sub-Committees with cross-representation between the memberships:

  • Matters relating to human tissue and compliance with the Human Tissue Act 2004 are the remit of the Human Tissue Act Compliance Sub-Committee.
  • Research involving animals comes with the remit of the Animal Welfare Ethical Review Board (see: below).

The University has a Federal-Wide Assurance, and the Committee sits as an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to approve research using human participants which is to be funded by a United States Department of State or Federal agency.

Paragraph 1 of the University Code of Research Ethics states:

Any research that involves human participants, the collection or study of their data, and/or the use of their organs and/or tissue, that is carried out by Brunel University staff, or students under the supervision of Brunel University staff, requires research ethics approval [before the research can commence]. As stated in the New SR6: Student Misconduct and Professional Suitability.

This applies to all relevant research endeavours, whether conducted by students or staff.

Such research must comply with all legal and ethical requirements and other applicable guidelines, including those relating to membership of a regulated profession. Appropriate care needs to be taken when research projects involve vulnerable groups, covert studies and other forms of research which do not involve full disclosure to participants. The dignity, rights, safety and well-being of participants must be the primary consideration in any research study. Research should be initiated and continued only if the anticipated benefits justify the risks involved.

Related policies

Brunel University Code of Research Ethics

Research Involving Animals: Brunel University Standing Operating Procedure