Ethics: Working with other (human participants)

Caution:

If you undertake work involving others and have not received approval of the Faculty Ethics Committee, your work may be subject to an academic penalty.

Why is Ethics approval important?

If the work you undertake as part of your studies in the School of Creative Arts involves the participation of others, you will need to get the approval of the Ethics Committee by completing an Application for Ethics Approval. (The application forms are available in electronic format from the Ethics Clerk at ssahecda@herts.ac.uk.

The Ethics committee is here to help protect you and others involved in your work

The Application for Approval is designed to ensure that anyone who is involved in any aspect of your studies is protected from any harm or distress your work might cause and that you have designed your project in such a way to ensure that participants are aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and they have given informed consent that they are willing to participate.

Making sure the information you gain about others is held securely

In your application, you are also required to give assurances about how you will collect and store information and what precautions you have taken to keep that data secure, either password protected or locked securely away. You will also be required to declare that you will not disclose that data or any other information.

Working with children and vulnerable adults

If you aim to work with children or those under 18, or with vulnerable adults who are not able to give informed consent that they are willing to participate in your research, then you will need written permission from a head-teacher/legal guardian and may need to be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau. If this is the case there is an application form ‘Consent Form Where the Proposed Participants are Minors’ that you are required to complete. If you aim to work with minors you should discuss your project by first contacting the Ethics Clerk at ssahecda@herts.ac.uk.

Work placements

If you are on a work placement or some other form of work experience and are undertaking your studies with an external organization, you will also need to ensure and provide evidence that the organization is aware of your research and has agreed to participate. Some institutions are also bound by ethics codes and you will need to observe these in the work you undertake.

Plan ahead!

It is important to get the approval of the Ethics committee well before you begin your work, preferably six weeks in advance but absolutely no less that two.

Remember, if you think that the work you are undertaking may need the approval of the Faculty Ethics Committee, then you should discuss the matter with your programme tutor. If in doubt, make an application.

You can also seek advice from the Chair of the Ethics Committee whom you can contact via the Ethics Clerk at ssahecda@herts.ac.uk.

If your application is approved, then you will be notified and the project is given a protocol number. Once your project is approved, you can be sure that the work you are undertaking is well-designed, of low risk, and you have taken all reasonable precautions to protect the wellbeing and interests of others. If, however, your project changes in its aims, scope and duration you will need to apply for further approval.

If the Ethics Committee has concerns about your project, you may well be required to modify it. If this is the case, you will receive written feedback on the changes you are required to make. You must not begin work until you have approval and you cannot make a retrospective application for work you have already undertaken.

You can find out more by searching StudyNet for ‘University’s Policies and Regulations’.

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