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.

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 

COVID-19 and fieldwork

Whilst restrictions in many places have largely eased up, researchers should, nevertheless, give consideration to any safety measures they should put in place due to Covid19, especially given that some participants may be vulnerable due to underlying health reasons. Therefore, we encourage researchers to conduct their data collection online where this is possible and feasible (see links to guidance below). Where this is not possible or appropriate, researchers should specify in their ethics review what measures they will put in place in order to do so safely. Best practice remains wearing masks, testing before any meetings, conducting these, wherever possible, outside or in a ventilated environment, etc. Additional measures may be required if the researcher will be working with participants who may be particulalry vulnerable.

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.

For any queries relating to ethics review/approval please contact Lyn Grove via research.ethics@lse.ac.uk

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

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.

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.

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 termly 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. 

  • Mental Health 'First Aid' training:  

    At LSE: see details here 
    External: most providers of MHFA can be found here https://mhfaengland.org 

  • 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

  • Using social media data in research: please see the guidance on ethics and consent here

  • Payments and benefits to research participants: see the guidance 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. You may also find it very helpful to look at the resources available on the Global Kinds Online website.

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

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