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Pharmacy research project guidance: Ethical Approval

Resources and links to guide you through your research project.


Research with human volunteers, and some other research, will require prior ethical approval. The University requires ethical approval to be obtained when personal data is collected either by questionnaire/interview or by the analysis of human samples. This process can take up to two months, and it is therefore important to start the application as soon as possible. Discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible so that the appropriate forms are submitted to the School or University Ethics Committee on time. Note that there are three additional forms for all studies which will be using the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition.

Does my research require ethical approval?

Ethical approval flowchart

Types of activities requiring approval

  • Questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, interviews
  • Taking tissue samples
  • Using human samples from previous trials
  • Food acceptability trials – taste panels
  • Human data records

Useful books

Getting ethical approval

Your ethics proposal goes to the University Ethics Committee. it must include:

  1. How participants are being selected
  2. The process by which you will obtain consent
  3. How confidentiality will be ensured
  4. Arrangements for publishing research results
  5. Arrangements for providing subjects with results

It may be approved at School instead of University level if research:

  • Does not involve patients of the health or social services
  • Involves participants who can give free and informed consent
  • Does not involve questions likely to cause distress
  • Does not involve an element of risk to the researcher or participant
  • Does not involve subjects in a special relationship with the investigator

Ethics Research Bite

A short video on Research Ethics from Dr Hollywood, the Research Ethics Lead for the School of Pharmacy (5 mins duration).