The following list of likely areas you will need to explore is not comprehensive, but will provide a prompt for your planning and reflection.

  • What benefits could arise from your research?
  • Have you considered benefits to:
    • the participants, eg impact of participation or research outcomes?
    • the research organisations, project partners and funders involved?
    • wider groups or populations?
    • the scientific knowledge?
    • the research team?
  • How will the ethics aspects of the project be monitored throughout the research lifecycle?
  • How will unforeseen or adverse events in the course of research be managed? For example, do you have procedures to deal with any disclosures from participants?
  • Have you considered harm and risk to:
    • the participants, eg harm, deception, impact of participation or of outcomes?
    • the collected data, eg storage, considerations of privacy, quality?
    • the research organisations, project partners and funders involved?
    • wider groups or populations?
    • the research team?
  • How can potential risks be addressed?
  • Details and recruitment of participants:
    • What types of people will be recruited? For example, students, children, people with learning disabilities or the elderly
    • How will the competence of participants to give informed consent be determined?
    • How, where, and by whom will participants be identified, approached and recruited?
    • Will any unequal relationships exist between anyone involved in the recruitment and the potential participants?
    • Is it necessary to check the background of members of the research team who will be in contact with participants, for example through the Disclosure and Barring Service?
    • Is there a need for participants to be de-briefed? By whom?
  • What is the role of consent?
    • What information will participants be given about the research? 
    • What is the best way to ensure they can make an informed decision about whether or not to take part?
    • Are you providing all the information participants need?
    • If re-using data, does the consent from the primary data collection cover further analysis that is planned?
    • Can participants opt out and withdraw their data?
    • If your research changes, how will you gain further consent?
  • Is participation voluntary? If not, can you justify that? Could anyone feel pressured to take part? 
  • Have you considered anonymity, and confidentiality?
  • Have you consider all perceived conflicts of interest in undertaking this research, eg financial reward for outcomes?
  • Are you conducting research outside the UK? Are there any additional issues that need to be considered as a result - eg local customs, local 'gatekeepers', political sensitivities, legal and ethics requirements in other countries or benefit sharing?
  • Have you considered what legislation your project will need to abide by, eg Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act, Human Rights Act, Mental Capacity Act?
  • How will you protect your data at the research site and away from the research site?
  • How will you store your collected data?
  • How will data be disposed of, and after how long?
  • What plans have you made for data archiving and arrangements to support wide access to the data?
  • Will you be collecting information through a third party?
  • Have you considered ethics within your plans for dissemination, impact and knowledge exchange?
  • Is there a research ethics protocol approved by your research organisation that would be appropriate to use?
  • Which research ethics committee is most appropriate to review your research?
  • Have you considered the time you need to secure ethics review?