Committees and Governance
The research ethics framework within UCC comprises the University Ethics Committee (UEC) and the three sub-Committees that report to it. UEC is a Committee of Academic Council and it reports annually to Academic Council.
The chair of UEC is Professor Ciara Heavin, Department of Business Information Systems, Cork University Business School.
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.
UEC does not process individual research proposals for ethical approval. This responsibility currently falls to three Research Ethics Committees (RECs). The nature of the research proposal (whether focused on animal research, clinical research, or social research) determines the appropriate committee.
University Ethics Committee (UEC)
Research Ethics Committees (RECs)
The three RECs in University College Cork are:
Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee (AEEC)
Research which involves experimentation on animal subjects must be approved by the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee (AEEC) with input from the Animal Welfare Body. This is a prerequisite to obtaining the necessary authorisations for animal experimentation as prescribed by law. If seeking to apply for or renew an existing animal experimentation authorisation, the researcher must first refer to the Animal Welfare Body and Director of the Biological Services Unit.
Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals (CREC)
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 CREC manual which is available from its secretariat. In broad terms, prior approval is necessary where the research methodology involves:
- A clinical trial of a medical device, medicinal product or clinical technique as stipulated under the applicable legislation.
- Development of diagnostic techniques using human participants.
- Access to, or utilisation of, human tissue and/or 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 those individuals.
- Interaction with/observation of individuals in healthcare settings.
CREC is recognised by the Department of Health and Children as a nationally competent ethics committee for clinical trials under the European Communities (Clinical Trials on Medicinal Products for Human Use) Regulations (S.I. 190/2004).
Social Research Ethics Committee (SREC)
The Social Research Ethics Committee (SREC) is one of three ethical approval committees at UCC (social research, animal experimentation, and clinical research). UCC staff and postgraduate research students can apply to SREC when undertaking social research 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 participants for example using observation, web surveys etc.
- Access to, or utilisation of, anonymised datasets.
- Access to, or utilisation of, data or case files/records concerning identifiable individuals.
- Conducting Internet Research or research online.