Ethics

In UCC, research ethics are the responsibility of the University Ethics Committee (UEC). The UEC is a committee of Academic Council and it reports annually both to Academic Council and to Governing Body.

The chair of UEC is Dr. Mary Donnelly of the School of Law.

UEC has the following key responsibilities

  • To develop policy and procedures governing ethics in research and research conduct

  • To make recommendations to Academic Council to ensure the effective operation of ethics governance structures at UCC

  • To establish and oversee ethics sub-committees

  • To co-ordinate training and raise awareness of ethics and good research conduct among staff and students.

Please note that UEC does NOT process individual research proposals for ethical approval. This responsibility currently falls to three Research Ethics Committees. The nature of the research proposal (whether focused on animal research, clinical research or social research) determines the appropriate Committee (see below).

Please click on the title for a full copy of the Introduction to Research Ethics at UCC (624kB). This provides an introduction to the ethics committees which operate in UCC and their reporting structure.  A guide is included to help identify the appropriate committee to which applications for ethical approval should be submitted (Page 19).

Click on the title to access the UCC Code of Research Conduct (561kB)

Which ethics committee should you contact?

Researchers are required to submit research proposals to the Committee most relevant to their research methodology.

For Ethics support queries, please contact Liz Hales

If the research project is clinical in nature, then it must be referred to the Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals (CREC).

The requirements of CREC are set out in the Committee’s manual which is freely available from the secretariat (crec@ucc.ie). In broad terms, prior approval is necessary where the research methodology involves:

  • therapeutic interaction with a human participant
  • a clinical trial of, inter alia, a medical device, medicinal product or clinical technique as stipulated under relevant legislation
  • development of diagnostic techniques using human participants
  • access to, or utilisation of, human tissue and body fluids
  • access to, or utilisation of, identifiable medical data concerning individuals (such as clinical records) by parties not directly concerned in the provision of care to these individuals
  • interaction with / observation of individuals in a healthcare contact or setting

Email: crec@ucc.ie

‌Non-clinical research which involves human participants comes within the remit of the Social Research Ethics Committee (SREC). Ethical review by SREC is strongly recommended where the methodology is not clinical or therapeutic in nature and proposes to involve:

  • direct interaction with human participants for the purpose of data collection using research methods such as questionnaires, interviews, observations, focus groups etc
  • indirect observation with human participant for example using observation, web surveys etc
  • access to, or utilisation of, data concerning identifiable individuals.

Please Note: If a research protocol falls into both the jurisdictions of CREC and SREC, then the application will usually be referred to CREC. This is to safeguard the proportionality of clinical risk versus therapeutic benefit.

Email: srec@ucc.ie

Please complete the application form and associated documents (below), and return by email (to: srec@ucc.ie) - this must include a scanned signed copy.  A sample informed consent form template is also included below, to assist applicants with formulating an informed consent form appropriate to the applicant's research project.  On receipt, the application will be forwarded to the committee for review. SREC aims to respond to candidates within a six week period. 

Please consider the University's policy on Research Conduct - see Policies - when completing the application, particularly the section pertaining to data management (note: the University expects data to be securely held for a minimum period of ten years after the completion of a research project).

 Guidance Document for SREC Applicants (121kB)

 SREC Application Form (79kB)

 SREC Sample Info Sheet and Consent Form (50kB)

Please Note: SREC's remit pertains to the oversight of staff and post-graduate research. It does not accept undergraduate applications, unless in exceptional circumstances.  Undergraduate applications should be processed by the host department.  However, SREC will consider undergraduate applications where there is a rationale which precludes the department from assessing these particular applications. 

Any research which involves experimentation on animal subjects must be approved by the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee (AEEC). This is in addition to obtaining the necessary licences for animal experimentation as prescribed by law. If seeking to apply or renew an animal experimentation licence, the researcher must first refer to the AEEC.

Email: aeec@ucc.ie

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