Edinburgh Napier University is committed to providing an environment
that recognises and supports research excellence.
Research should be conducted to the highest levels of integrity,
including appropriate research design and frameworks, to ensure that
findings are robust and defensible. Researchers should also adhere to
the highest level of research ethics, in line with requirements set out
by national and international regulatory bodies.
All staff and students should be familiar with the Universities
Policies and procedures that govern the research process.
In addition, the university expects researchers to observe the
standards and practice set out in any regulation and guidelines
published by funders and relevant professional bodies.
In keeping in with this commitment, Edinburgh Napier operates a code
of practice. The Edinburgh Napier University Code of Practice on
Research Integrity defines the research principles and practices to
which all students and staff at the University must adhere.
The Code should be read by all University staff and registered
students who are conducting, or planning to conduct, research of any
type which must be appropriately governed. Ethical issues also come into
play wherever research involves human participants, personal data and
human tissue. The Code also applies to any research partners who may be
conducting research on Edinburgh Napier University premises.
Code of Practice on Research Integrity (full document)
Below are two examples of generic forms for informed consent that illustrate the type of information often required (for
UPDATE 17 MARCH - Research Projects involving face-to-face participation – ethical approval – CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Given the exceptional nature of the situation arising as a result of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the University Research Integrity Committee requires all ongoing research projects to make changes to how participant interactions are conducted. Researchers must consider if they can adapt their research to be conducted remotely. If this isn’t possible the research must be paused. Either change must be made by Monday 23rd March.
In addition, we have temporarily suspended the requirement for ethical approval of modifications that relate only to changes to participant interactions from face-to-face to remote (for example phone/Skype interviews or focus groups), unless there is a substantial change to the research* as a result of the change. Please note that such changes would normally require a modification and will again when this situation has passed.
If your research involves recruitment of participants from the NHS please be aware that some NHS trusts are pausing all recruitment and clinical studies due to the current situation.
If you are unsure if it will be appropriate to change to remote interaction you should discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible. Once the appropriate way forward has been agreed, please follow the guidance below to adapt your research.
Guidance for those who need to pause their research
You must inform your participants that the research has been paused. It will be key that in whatever communication you send to participants that you describe how any actively enrolled participants will be managed, particularly concerning any safety monitoring/follow-up etc. where applicable.
Guidance for those who will conduct their research remotely
A. I have not yet begun data collection but have ethical clearance to do so. I will amend my recruitment plan to recruit and interact remotely.
Unless the changes made to the way in which you interact with participants result in a substantial change to protocol*, you will not need to submit a modification request. Please update your recruitment documents, including participant information sheets, to outline how you will remotely interact and then proceed. Phone / Skype interviews, or online focus groups may be appropriate remote interactions to replace face-to-face interviews.
B. I have already begun data collection and will now change to remote participant interaction.
Unless the changes made to the way in which you interact with participants result in a substantial change to protocol*, you will not need to submit a modification request. Simply update your recruitment documents to outline how you will remotely interact with participants and use this version moving forward. Any already active participants must be informed of the switch to remote interaction and be provided with the updated participant information sheet. It is important that you make clear to participants that if they no longer wish to participate owing to this change, or for any other reason, that they are free to withdraw at any point.
C. I have planned my research but am yet to apply for ethical approval. What should I do?
There may be long term disruption due to coronavirus which may impact research projects yet to start. Researchers should consider building in the option for remote participation, or if the research design needs to revised before applying for ethics at this time. Working with patients, elderly and other vulnerable groups might continue to be challenging even if wider social distancing measures have been relaxed.
*A substantial change to protocol might be a change that would alter the level of risk to the participant i.e. if you are working with vulnerable participants, to do so remotely might remove the safeguard of the researcher being able to detect distress face-to-face and mitigate risk by referring to an appropriately trained person.
Further information on ethical applications and our Code of Practice for Research Integrity can be found above (which contains guidance on online survey work). If staff require any further advice please contact your School Research Integrity convenor.
We will continue to monitor the situation with Coronavirus and will update information as the situation develops.
The University Research Integrity Committee
The University Research Integrity Committee oversees governance policies, procedures and practices across the University.
Please contact the clerk should you have a query or issue concerning research Integrity.
Approval for ethics applications is devolved to school level. For more information regarding procedures related to your associated school, please contact your School Research Integrity Lead:
Business School: Dr Matthew Dutton, M.Dutton@napier.ac.uk
SAS: Dr Rory Maclean, R.Maclean@napier.ac.uk
SH&SC: Dr Anne Rowat, A.Rowat@napier.ac.uk
SOC: Dr Phil Turner, P.Turner@napier.ac.uk
SACI: Dr Alistair Duff, A.Duff@napier.ac.uk
SEBE: Dr Andrew Smith, A.Smith7@napier.ac.uk
Cross University Ethical Approval: Alisdair Stapley, firstname.lastname@example.org
University Research Misconduct Policy
The University Research Integrity Committee has an agreed policy on Research Misconduct. This document outlines good research practice, unacceptable research conduct, and explains how preliminary investigations into allegations of research conduct should be investigated.
All members of the University are under a general obligation to preserve and protect the integrity and probity of research; in particular, if they have good reason to suspect any research misconduct in research, they should report their suspicions in accordance with this policy to the Clerk of the University Research Integrity Committee.
If you are a member of the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) or UNISON, you can receive support and advice from a trade union representative.
Cross University Ethical Approval Process
To allow an effective means to deal with the increasing number of applications that are carrying out research across the university or where the applicant is the from Professional Services a Cross University Approval process has been approved and implemented by the University Research Integrity Committee.
Research wholly based in one school still requires to gain ethical approval from the School Research Integrity Committees and follow the procedure identified by the School Research Integrity Lead.
The Procedure for cross-university research is a ‘triage’ system based on risk ensuring special consideration is given to medical/invasive work, vulnerable groups, or research involving staff and students within Edinburgh Napier University.
The three tier Cross-University Ethical Approval Form has been established starting with a self-assessment to establish level of risk and guidance on level of scrutiny required for the research project.
Please submit completed forms to Alisdair Stapley, clerk to the University Research Integrity Committee.
The application will be reviewed by two reviewers drawn from a panel of reviewers created from a pool of academics with expertise in ethics, subject areas and/or methodology, e.g. Convenors of School Research Integrity Committees, School Gatekeepers, and members of Research Integrity Committee.
Application to be reviewed
Within 2 weeks
Changes to be highlighted by applicant
Within 1 week
Overall time scale for Approval