Research Ethics

The Research Ethics Policy aims to promote a culture within the School whereby researchers conscientiously reflect on the ethical implications of their research.

Researchers in the social sciences have responsibilities - in the first instance to the people from whom the researcher is gathering data (the research participants), but also to society at large; to those who fund their research; to the institutions that employ them or at which they study; to their colleagues and the wider academic and research community; and also for their own safety and wellbeing. Reconciling those responsibilities can be difficult and may entail ethical judgement. 

Researchers should familiarise themselves with the School’s Research Ethics Policy and Code of Research Conduct. These policies form part of the School's over-arching Ethics Code.

Please follow the ethics review procedure guidance below.
Students may find it helpful to first look at this one-page overview:
Research ethics review in a nutshell 

If you require copies of the Research Ethics Policy or any related guidance in an alternative format, or other reasonable adjustments, please let us know by contacting us.

Research ethics review procedure

An ethics review is required for any study involving:

- Human participants e.g. for interviews, online surveys, observations, social media;
- User generated data (e.g. from discussion forums, social media platforms, vlogs or blogs, comments on posts or articles);
- Use of datasets containing identifiable information (names, emails, social media profile names, etc., or any other information that could lead to the identification of an individual) – even if you plan to anonymise the data;
- Research that might have negative repercussions for any individuals or groups

Before you complete your ethics review, think about how you will handle informed consent (see the tab below)

All staff and students should now use the new online research ethics submission system. Full instructions and a link to the online system can be found here

The Research ethics policy and procedures are overseen by the Research Ethics Committee. If you have any questions about the ethics review process please contact Lyn Grove

Informed consent

Please see the LSE guidance on informed consent which includes two example participant information sheet/consent forms you can use as a template. Word versions of the templates can be found here.

If your research participants are children or young people, please see our advice on how to seek their consent in our Guidance on working with children and other vulnerable groups.

See our "What is consent?" to understand the difference between consent in terms of ethics versus consent for data protection purposes

If you plan to use data from the internet or social media in your research please see the guidance document 'Using data from the internet and social media in research: ethics & consent'.

Research conduct and research integrity

All researchers (whether staff or students) are expected to abide by the School's Code of Research Conduct. The Code incorporates the policy and procedures for the investigation of research misconduct.
Please see the Research integrity at LSE webpage for further information.

The LSE is a subscriber to the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO). LSE researchers can find a number of resources and details of events on the UKRIO website

Training and guidance

Overseas fieldwork

Researchers planning to conduct any fieldwork overseas – either by themselves or via local research assistants/enumerators, etc., and regardless of whether or not any travel will be involved - must contact the Health and Safety team to ascertain whether a risk assessment is required.

Note that any travel for fieldwork to high-risk countries requires approval by SMC.  Overseas research that is considered to be high risk or contentious may also be referred to SMC. 

Please see the latest information on travel here. If you have any questions relating to travel or the risk assessment process, please contact the Health and Safety team.

Further support and contact

  • Drop-in surgeries: All staff and students are welcome to come along to one of our online 'Research ethics, data management, data protection and copyright' drop-in surgeries with any questions they have. Sessions are held on Thursdays from 4-5pm (on zoom). For more details and to book please click here   
  • Links to further LSE and external frameworks and guidance are available in the Research Ethics Policy Annex A

  • If you have any questions concerning research ethics not answered here please contact Lyn Grove


Further guidance