In UCC, research ethics is the remit of the University Ethics Committee (UEC). There are three ethics subcommittees under the remit of UEC, one of which is the Social Research Ethics Committee (SREC). This committee (SREC) reviews research proposals submitted by university staff and research-based postgraduate students seeking ethical approval for social research (as distinct from clinical research or research involving animal experimentation). The work of SREC is strongly informed by the UCC Code of Research Conduct (2016).
UEC and SREC seek to ensure that supervisors and researchers are sufficiently supported to undertake research (which may involve human participants) to the highest possible standards and with due regard to the welfare of all concerned. It is now university policy that all student dissertations must undergo ethical review.
Why is ethical review necessary for all student dissertations?
To date there has been no formal process to review undergraduate or taught postgraduate social research proposals. The UEC and SREC propose that this should be addressed to protect the research participants, the researchers and the university. It is proposed that all researchers, including undergraduate and postgraduate students conducting social research in the university, have access to an ethical review process. To initiate this process, three pilot projects are underway in three Schools in the University, one of which is the School of Applied Social Studies. After the pilot exercise is complete, and the learning from this pilot is taken on board, then an appropriate ethical review process will be finalised and adopted across the university.
What is the difference between a Track 1 and Track 2 application?
The pilot covers research projects on undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes and these are processed under two different ethical review routes: Track 1 and Track 2 applications. On the basis that some social research may be perceived to be not ‘ethically controversial,’ and that student research generally needs to be undertaken in a very timely way, it is considered that a fast-track process for ethical oversight may be sufficient. Therefore, it is recommended by the UEC that where a supervisor and student agree that the proposed research is suitable for fast-track review, it can be designated a Track 1 application. In the event that there are substantive ethical issues relating to the proposed social research and a fast-track review is considered insufficient by either student/ supervisor or both, then a Track 2 application needs to be made, prior to the proposed research being undertaken.
Who do I ask if I have questions?
Please discuss any questions with your research supervisor in the first instance. If you and your supervisor have additional questions, please send an email to AppSocREC@ucc.ie.
These forms should be used by undergraduate and taught Master students in the School of Applied Social Studies.
Master by Research and Doctoral students should use the Social Research Ethics Committee forms and process. Click here.