Guidance on the Ethics of Research Conducted in UCC in Light of the Covid 19 Pandemic
All three UCC ethics sub-committees (AEC, CREC, SREC) are receiving and reviewing applications. Researchers must comply with all standard ethical and regulatory requirements, ensuring always, in line with basic ethical principles, that the benefits from the research outweigh any risks. Ethics review is required for any project, which involves engagement with human subjects, either face- to- face or online.
This guidance relates only to additional requirements associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Researchers are advised to keep themselves and their research participants safe at all times and to act in accordance with the most up to date public health advice, document requirements and Covid-19 restrictions.
- The requirement to work from home unless it is necessary to attend the workplace in person has now ended - researchers can continue all research activities on campus and can resume/commence research studies, namely non-human-based studies off campus (Fieldwork) or human-focused studies (Research at Interface with Society/Volunteers-on-Campus studies).
- In keeping with the Research Business Continuity Team Subsidiarity Model and the national emphasis on the promotion and use of individual responsibility, local area managers and Heads (Dept/School/RICU) should decide upon how best to adapt current/previous measures which is reasonably practicable and necessary for research carried out in their area and consult with the Head of College if/as appropriate. Therefore, prior approval for research activities is no longer mandated by the UCC Research Business Continuity Team - prior approval requirements to be decided upon at a local level.
- Prior approval for research activities, including human-focused studies (Research at Interface with Society/Volunteers-on-Campus studies), may be deemed necessary and decided upon by local Heads (Schools/RICUs), and in some instances Heads of Colleges, for certain activities.
Further information for research activities during the Covid-19 Pandemic can be found at Research Business Continuity Supports | University College Cork (ucc.ie), including Latest Updates for Research Continuity | University College Cork (ucc.ie), Research Continuity Approval & Reporting Processes, Guidelines for Human-Focused Research | University College Cork (ucc.ie) and Guidelines for Fieldwork | University College Cork (ucc.ie).
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. Elizabeth Kiely of the School of Applied Social Studies.
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. This provides an introduction to the ethics committees which operate in UCC and their reporting structure.
UCC Code of Research Conduct
You can access the webpage for the UCC Code of Research Conduct V2.4 and guidelines at https://www.ucc.ie/en/research/support/integrity/researchintegritypoliciesguidance/ucccodeofresearchconduct/
Which ethics committee should you contact?
- APPENDIX A of the UCC Code of Research Conduct V2.4 details the procedure for identifying the relevant ethics committee.
- The NREC will focus on Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products CTIMP) (NREC-CT) and Clinical Investigations of Medical Devices (NREC-MD), with a view to a launch date of early May. It is anticipated that NREC-MD will take on the approval of device studies from May 3rd, and that NREC-CT would take the CTIMP studies under their governance from January 2022.
- Researchers are required to submit research proposals to the Committee most relevant to their research methodology.
For ethics support queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org