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Does your research require ethical approval?

To help determine whether your project requires formal ethical approval, please use the University’s Ethics Decision tool.

Important note: please use Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari to access the tool, it is currently NOT working in Google Chrome.

If after using the tool you still have specific queries about your project, please contact your Ethics Signatory.

Are you performing any of the following?

  • Evaluation (including course evaluation, service evaluation or teaching evaluation)
  • Market research

The University of Manchester does not normally require formal ethical review for these activities provided the following criteria are met:

  1. The data is completely anonymous with no personal information being collected (apart from their name, their publically available contact details and a record of consent)
  2. The data is not considered to be sensitive or confidential in nature
  3. The issues being researched are not likely to upset or disturb participants
  4. Vulnerable or dependant groups are not included
  5. There is no risk of possible disclosures or reporting obligations

Research Involving Interviews1 with Participants on Subjects Deemed to be within their Professional Competence

5. Items 1-5 above (note that item 1 can include an audio recorded conversation provided the transcript is fully anonymised and the recording then deleted)
6. The subject matter is limited to topics that are strictly within the professional competence of the participants

Audit of Data/Secondary data analysis

7. Items 1 and 2 above
8. You are able to provide explicit consent from the data controller to access the data
9. You are able to prove that the data will be used for a purpose which falls within the remit of the original consent provided by data subjects

IMPORTANT: Even if your study does not require formal ethical review, you must adhere to the following guidelines:

Ethical Review will be required in the following circumstances

  1. Research involving the collection or use of person-identifiable or special category data
  2. Research involving the collection or use of data which is classed as sensitive or confidential
  3. Research involving the use of audio/video recordings or photographs
  4. Research involving vulnerable groups, including children or adults with special needs
  5. Research involving the ingestion (by whatever means of delivery) of any substance by participants
  6. Research involving any invasive/semi-invasive procedure or the administration of drugs
  7. Research involving the physical testing of participants or the use of medical devices
  8. Research involving the use of psychological tests or interventions
  9. Research involving privileged access to clinical or personal records, or access to potential volunteers on the basis of their being or having been patients, or the invitation to volunteers to divulge facts about themselves which they would not wish the investigator to allow to become known to other persons
  10. Research involving any form of physical risk, distress, embarrassment, anxiety, stress, fatigue or inconvenience to the participant
  11. Research involving any form of adverse effect on the personal, social or economic well-being of the participant
  12. Research involving socially sensitive topics
  13. Research likely to uncover illegal or potentially harmful activities

Human Tissue Specific

1. Research involving the use of human tissue, including foetal material (but not in normal circumstances placental material) (in compliance with the terms of the Human Tissue Act 2004)
2. Research involving the cadavers of or tissue from the recently dead, other than bequeathed cadavers and tissue obtained in the normal course of necropsy (in compliance with the terms of the Human Tissue Act 2004)
3. The use of novel techniques, even where apparently non-invasive, whose safety may be open to question
4. Research limited to the use of previously collected, non-identifiable material consisting of or including cells in accordance with the terms of donor consent (a license from the HTA is required).
5. Research limited to the use of acellular material (plasma, serum, DNA) extracted from tissue previously collected in the course of normal care, provided that the patients or service users are not identifiable to the research team in carrying out the research.

All of the above will require ethics approval from a Research Ethics Committee (UREC or NHS REC) but please note the list is not exhaustive.

In all cases of doubt, members of staff and students should contact their Ethics Signatory for additional guidance and support.

Additional resources available:

1: Please note that in this context the term 'interview' can also be replaced with the words 'focus group' or 'online questionnaire'.