Research Ethics

Guidance on LSE research ethics, code of research conduct, and training

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.

An ethics review is required for any study involving: human participants (e.g. for interviews, online surveys, observations, social media); use of datasets containing identifiable information (e.g. names, emails, social media profile names, etc., but could be e.g. job title – even if you plan to anonymise the data); or for research that might have negative repercussions for any individuals or groups.

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

COVID-19 and fieldwork

In line with the current social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19, fieldwork involving any face-to-face data collection (such as interviews, focus groups, etc.) should be paused or alternative methods arranged (e.g. conducting interviews using video conference platforms, using online surveys, etc.). 

Guidance on conducting primary research online 
Click here for the guidance for researchers
Click here for the guidance for taught master's students

If a researcher feels it is safe to resume face-to-face data collection they should follow the procedure outlined below.

Resuming/requesting in-person data collection
If you feel the data collection in the country where the research is due to take place can be safely resumed (either by yourself or by local research assistants/ enumerators, etc.), please complete the template here and send to the Research Ethics Committee via research.ethics@lse.ac.uk. Every request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis since the circumstances are likely to vary considerably from one location to another, even within a given country or region. In all cases a risk assessment will also need to be completed (as the School has a duty of care where 3rd parties are being engaged). See below.

Risk assessments and approval for travel
Note that any travel for fieldwork purposes currently requires approval by 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 guidance
Please see the LSE COVID-19 guidance for research and consulting activities for further details and FAQs.

Research ethics review procedure

An ethics review is required for any study involving:

- Human participants e.g. interviews, online surveys, observations, social media

- Use of datasets containing identifiable information (names, emails, social media profile names, etc., but could be e.g. job title) – even if you plan to anonymise the data

- Research that might have negative repercussions for any individuals or groups

**Please note that at the current time, due to COVID-19, all data collection should be conducted remotely/online, unless permission is sought from the Research Ethics Committee. Please see further details under the tab above**

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

A new online research ethics submission system has been rolled out over the summer of 2020. We would like all staff and students to use this new system by October 2020 onwards. We are still in the process of setting up some Departments and Centres so if you have any trouble accessing the form please contact Lyn Grove.
Full instructions and a link to the online system can be found here.

If you have any questions about the ethics review process please contact Lyn Grove

Informed consent


See the LSE guidance on informed consent which includes a sample participant information sheet and consent form you can use as a template.

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

There is further guidance on the Library's data management and informed consent page

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.

 

Training and guidance

  • All students: in the first instance please contact your department to ask what discipline-specific research ethics training may be available in your department. For questions regarding the training and support outlined below contact research.ethics@lse.ac.uk.

  • Conducting primary research online: 
    Click here for the guidance for taught master's students
    Click here for the guidance for researchers students and staff

  • Data Management: please see the guidance available here
  • PhD students: the PhD Academy hosts a monthly series of topical issues in research ethics. MRes students may also attend these sessions.
    PhD students may also attend the research ethics workshop that forms part of MY530. For details see the latest information on the Methods training webpage
    PhD students can also access research ethics training via the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network (BPSN)

  • Global Health Training Centre module ‘Ethics Review of Social Research on Health-Related Topics’. This free access online module is very relevant to most research in the social sciences. 

  • Research team leaders: this UCB presentation ‘Working With Research Study Participants: An Overview’  is designed for research team leaders to go through with their research assistants.
  • The Social Research Association (SRA) runs a range of training courses, some of which include research ethics related issues. 

  • Fieldwork training: training and guidance available for fieldwork and travel can be found here

  • Research with children and young people: if your research will involve children or young people, please ensure you read the NCB Guidelines for Research with Children and Young People

Further support

 

  • Drop-in surgeries: All staff and students are welcome to come along to one of the 'Research ethics, data management and data protection and copyright' drop-in surgeries with any questions they have. Sessions are held on Thursdays from 4-5pm (currently 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

 

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