Faculty Research Ethics Committee
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Lancaster University Management School have a joint Research Ethics Committee (FASS-LUMS REC) that oversees the ethical review of proposed research in all Departments of both Faculties.
All colleagues and students intending to submit an application for ethics approval to the FASS-LUMS REC are strongly advised to read through the instructions and information contained on this site before completing and submitting their application.
To note, it can take longer to review ethics applications during the summer months due to staff leave commitments. Therefore please help us to help you and allow extra time for your application to be fully processed and reviewed in summer.
FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee guidance Accordion
From and including 1st February 2022 REAMS, the new online system, must be used to submit ethics applications (and amendments to already approved ethics applications) to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee. New 'paper-based' research ethics applications (which were used under the old system) are no longer being accepted by the Committee; the exceptions to this are some applications from PhD students in the Department of Educational Research and NHS applications which need NHS Ethics Committee approval and which name Lancaster University as the 'sponsor'. More information about REAMS can be found by clicking on the 'How to apply tab' on this page.
The University is committed to ensuring that all research, and in particular, studies involving human participants, are conducted in a way that respects the dignity, rights, and welfare of participants, and which minimises risks to participants, researchers, third parties, and to the University itself.
All research conducted by staff and students from Lancaster University needs to adhere to the ethical standards set out in the University’s Code of Practice and in accordance with research ethics guidelines specified by the research councils (RCUK), by funding bodies such as the ESRC and by relevant subject-specific professional organisations.
The University has an agreed procedure for supporting students and staff in considering ethical issues in relation to their research. All Lancaster University researchers (staff and students, working on funded and non-funded projects), in particular those who conduct studies involving human participants and personal data, need to submit their project for ethics review and seek ethics approval for their research. Studies which use publicly available data sources only (for example newspaper articles, published policy documents or laws or published research literature) and which do not raise any other ethical concerns (such as funding sources that could be considered controversial or a conflict of interest) normally do not require ethics review. For publicly available archives it is your responsibility to check with public archival 'gatekeepers' of data relating to humans to check on any ethical considerations that need to be taken into account and to apply these considerations. If data might be deemed sensitive or controversial please contact the Research Ethics Officer, email email@example.com. If you are uncertain whether your study requires ethical review, or not, please consult the checklist and/or log on to REAMS and answer the initial questions (see the section on 'how to apply') or contact the Research Ethics Officer. To note, ethical approval must be obtained in writing from the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee before research activity begins (e.g. before participant recruitment, data collection, data analysis, etc.).
Ethics reviews are dealt with by Faculty based Research Ethics Committees. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Management School have a joint Research Ethics Committee. The FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee (FASS LUMS REC)is responsible for setting standards and policy for research ethics within the two Faculties. The REC considers and reviews ethics applications from staff and research students (PhD & MPhil), for funded and non-funded projects. Ethics applications by Undergraduate and Masters students are dealt with at departmental level.
The FASS-LUMS REC can offer advice and training on ethics in relation to research in the social sciences and the subjects covered in the Management School. The FASS-LUMS REC is a sub-committee of the University’s Research Ethics and Integrity Committee.
Additional information can be found on the Research Ethics and Integrity webpage.
Summer vacation: It can take longer to review ethics applications during the summer months due to staff leave commitments. Therefore please help us to help you and allow extra time for your application to be fully processed and reviewed in the summer.
Impact of Covid-19: Before submitting a new ethics application or an amendment to an existing ethics application for review please read the University's guidance on the impact of Covid-19 webpage. For additional help with research and ethical considerations during the pandemic, you may find this document useful: Guidance on ethical considerations v3.
Christmas break: Please note the University will be closed during the Christmas break each year from the end of December to the beginning of January and ethics applications will not be processed during this time. Please help the Committee to help you; if your ethics application needs to be reviewed before Christmas please allow plenty of time for the review process (normally about 6 weeks) and avoid sending 'last minute applications'.
Important Application Notes
The procedures for seeking ethics approval depend on whether you are a staff member, research student (PhD/MPhil) or undergraduate/Masters student. To note, ethical approval must be obtained before research activity begins (e.g. before recruiting participants, collecting any data, data analysis, etc.).
*Note for PhD students in the Educational Research Department only. From and including 18th January 2018 if you are a student in the Educational Research Department you must submit your ethics application to your supervisor for ethical review, follow the 'How to apply' guidance below. If you have any questions about your application you should contact your supervisor in the first instance because they will review your application instead of the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee. To note, these arrangements apply to PhD students in the Department of Educational Research only*, for further information go to the 'How to apply' section.
If you are applying for NHS sponsorship you should follow the NHS sponsorship guidance. All other applicants (staff and PhD students) should continue to submit their ethics applications to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee in the usual way by following the guidance given below.
If you are unsure of which route your application should take through the ethics review process please contact the Research Ethics Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org before you submit your application.
How to apply
Staff, MPhil and PhD student projects (funded and non-funded)
A) How to apply to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee (FASS-LUMS REC)
Before submitting an ethics application you will need to do a health and safety risk assessment, if appropriate. Carrying out risk assessments are under the remit of the Safety Office. If you need assistance with the completion of a risk assessment you should contact your Area Safety Officer if you are a member of staff and your supervisor if you are a MPhil/PhD student.
From 1st February 2022 ethics applications should be submitted in REAMS, the University’s Research Ethics Application Management System, for projects by staff and PhD/MPhil students. Whether your study is externally funded or not, your project needs to be approved by the FASS-LUMS REC prior to the data collection/research activity commencing. (*To note, there are different arrangements for PhD students in the Department of Educational Research who must follow this guidance: for Educational Research doctoral researchers, research ethics review is undertaken within the department, except in a small number of ethically complex cases. If you are on a structured programme, Part 1 review takes place through the module convenor. For your doctoral thesis, the review process varies depending on the cohort and programme you are on. Please check the programme Moodle for details, and if in doubt, ask the programme administrator).
Projects reviewed and approved by another organisation’s research ethics committee: Projects reviewed and approved by another organisation’s research ethics committee require a review by the Faculty Research Ethics Committee before research can commence; in order to comply with Lancaster University's requirements. For example, if a co-investigator at another university obtains ethical approval for a project that covers a Lancaster researcher on their research team, the Lancaster researcher must also submit an ethics application to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee through REAMS. Please contact the Research Ethics Officer for further guidance, email email@example.com.
In addition to completing the application form in REAMS, you need to submit all research materials of direct relevance to your application such as, but not limited to:
- Advertising materials (posters, e-mails)
- Letters of invitation to participate
- Participant Information Sheets
- Consent Forms
- Questionnaires, surveys, demographic sheets
- Interview schedules, interview question guides, focus group scripts
- Debriefing sheets, resource lists
We recommend that you use these templates: Sample Participant Information Sheet and Sample Consent Form which you can adapt for your project. If your participants include people with a learning disability, your information sheet and consent form should include pictorial representations of the information you are trying to communicate; for more information, go to http://www.makaton.org/.
For all sections of the ethics application form, be specific and concise in the information you provide. The reviewers on the Ethics Committee are academics from the different departments in FASS and LUMS. They will not necessarily be from your subject area or discipline, so make sure you explain subject-specific terminology and be as clear as you can when completing your ethics application.
Projects involving social media and participants recruited or identified through the Internet require full ethics review (the Committee is following ESRC and other guidelines on this). Additionally, full ethics review is required when understanding of privacy in these settings is contentious or where sensitive issues are discussed; and where quotes and visual images the researcher intends to use may be identifiable. For example, as part of your study you may be using data from an online context that is publicly available, but this does not mean that the participants/members of this context also perceive it to be public. For more advice on the ethics of internet research, see Association of Internet Researchers, ethical decision making and internet research, Association of Internet Researchers website. Any study involving online interviews, online ethnography or any other use of data from private or semi-private internet sources is considered to involve contact with human participants and, therefore, needs a full ethics review. Please read the 'Guidance on using social media for research' and Social media quick guide for important information to consider when designing your research and before you apply for ethics approval.
Applicants must use REAMS from 1st February 2022. The exceptions to this are some PhD students in the Department of Educational Research (see above*) and researchers whose ethics application requires NHS Research Ethics Committee review and 'NHS' sponsorship from Lancaster University. Please contact the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Officer for further guidance if needed firstname.lastname@example.org.
B) What level of review is required for my project?
In order to help decide what level of review your project requires, please consider this question:
Does your research project involve any of the following (1-9)?
- Human participants (including all types of interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, records relating to humans, use of internet or other secondary data, observation etc.)
- Animals - the term animals shall be taken to include any non-human vertebrates, cephalopods or decapod crustaceans.
- Risk to members of the research team e.g. lone working, travel to areas where researchers may be at risk, including at risk of emotional distress
- Human cells or tissues other than those established in laboratory cultures
- Risk to the environment
- Conflict of interest
- Research or a funding source that could be considered controversial
- Social media and/or data from internet sources that could be considered private
- Any other ethical considerations
If you have answered Yes to any of the above (1-9) you will need to submit an ethics application to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee for review in REAMS. If you are not sure whether your project requires ethics review please contact the Research Ethics Officer, email@example.com. (Students in the Department of Educational Research only: submit your ethics application to your supervisor, see guidance above*).
C) What happens next?
Depending on their level of risk, projects submitted to the FASS-LUMS REC involving human participants will be reviewed by either one or two reviewers from the REC. The reviewer/s will provide comments and feedback to the applicant in REAMS and they may ask for any clarification of your application if needed.
Depending on the project and the ethical issues it raises, your application may be discussed by the full committee at one of its monthly meetings and you may be asked to attend the meeting. The Research Ethics Officer will contact you if your application will be discussed at a committee meeting. Please ensure you are available to attend the meeting if required to do so. Committee meeting dates are listed on this FASS-LUMS REC website.
Projects submitted to the FASS-LUMS REC through REAMS which involve existing documents/data only or the evaluation of an existing project with no direct contact with human participants will usually be processed by Chair’s action.
You can submit applications in REAMS at any time. If you have any questions about the ethics review process or need assistance with completing and submitting an ethics application please contact the Research Ethics Officer, Debbie Knight, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For queries relating to the REAMS system please email email@example.com.
The FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee has prepared a participant information sheet and consent form which all applicants are invited to use.
If you will employ a transcriber, for example to transcribe audio-recorded interviews, they will need to sign a Confidentiality Agreement. A sample Confidentiality Agreement can be found below.
Download sample documents from this section:
- Sample Participant Information Sheet
- Sample Consent Form
- Sample verbal consent protocol
- Confidentiality agreement for transcribers
Further help and support
Further support can be found on the 'Additional Information and Guidance' tab below.
For any questions about the logistics of the application process or other questions about ethical issues in relation to your research, please contact the Reasearch Ethics Officer, Debbie Knight.
Office address: Room D22, FASS Building, Lancaster University
For queries relating to the REAMS system please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewing process and meetings schedule
All applications for ethics approval received by the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee will be considered carefully.
All incoming applications will initially be screened by the Committee Secretary or Chair or Deputy Chair. Only a small number of applications can be considered via Chair’s action (e.g. applications for projects not including direct contact with human participants and drawing on secondary data only; some applications that have been reviewed by another university).
Many applications will be seen by at least one reviewer who is responsible for writing the review and for considering revisions and additional information submitted in response to the review. Applications that, after initial screening, are considered to pose more significant ethical risks will be considered by either a minimum of two reviewers or the full committee at its monthly meetings. When applications have been reviewed they will be finally approved by the Chair or Deputy Chair of the Committee.
Outcomes of the review include the following options:
- Approved, or further information and revisions required, or referral to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee meeting for further discussion.
- Not approved: the application is seriously flawed and requires major revisions before it can be considered; applicants in this category should prepare a new application and add a cover letter explaining what major changes they have made following the previous review.
- Rejected: the study is deemed unethical.
The estimated processing times for the review of ethics applications from staff and PhD students are outlined below. We will do our best not to exceed this time. However, we cannot exclude that due to circumstances such as high volume of applications, absence of committee members due to illness and when fewer members are available, for example during summer vacation and University closures, some applications may take longer to review.
The length of time required for each review is related to the complexity of ethical issues raised by your planned study. Additionally, it depends on the quality of your application and the speed at which you are able to respond to requests for revisions or clarification from the reviewers. Therefore, the times given below are estimated review times, and it is likely that it will take longer for you to receive full approval of your application.
It is entirely your, the applicant’s responsibility, to submit applications in good time so that any data collection can start as planned and only after ethics approval has been obtained, in writing, from the Committee.
The processing time for ethics applications requiring Chair’s action is up to two weeks. For all other applications, the processing time is a minimum of six weeks.
Please note that these times might be exceeded during periods of high demand and staff absences, particularly around University closure periods (Christmas and Easter). Due to limited staff availability, applications submitted in August will take longer to process.
Committee meeting dates and submission deadlines
Applications for ethics review can be submitted at any time. However, if your study poses significant ethical risks, it will be considered by the Committee at one of its monthly meetings. To note, that there is no Committee meeting in August. Turnaround times over the summer period are likely to exceed those listed above, in particular during periods where the Research Ethics Officer and/or the Chair/Deputy Chair are away from the University. Applicants who would like their application to be considered at a Committee meeting need to submit their application by the deadline.
The Committee meeting dates and deadlines for submitting applications for review by full Committee are listed below. Please submit applications before 5.30pm.
- 13 September 2023 (Deadline for submitting applications 18 August 2023)
- 11 October 2023 (Deadline for submitting applications 22 September 2023)
- 8 November 2023 (Deadline for submitting applications 20 October 2023)
- 13 December 2023 (Deadline for submitting applications 20 November 2023)
- 17 January 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 6 December 2023)
- 7 February 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 19 January 2024)
- 6 March 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 16 February 2024)
- 10 April 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 15 March 2024)
- 8 May 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 19 April 2024)
- 5 June 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 17th May 2024)
- 3rd July 2024 (Deadline for submitting applications 14th June 2024)
- No meeting in August 2024
Chair Karolina Follis
Deputy Chair Gary Potter
Committee Secretary (Faculty Research Ethics Officer): Debbie Knight
- Jonathan Vincent (Education Research)
- Philip Moffitt (Education Research)
- Andrew Tate (English and Creative Writing)
- Alex Wragge-Morley (History)
- Joseph Lindley (LICA)
- Mariana Fonseca Braga (LICA)
- Rachel Heah (Law)
- Nayeli Urquiza (Law)
- Sebastian Muth (Linguistics and English Language)
- Silke Brandt (Linguistics and English Language)
- Celine Germond-Duret (PPR)
- Joanna Kostka (Sociology)
- To be confirmed (Sociology)
- Veronique Lane (DELC)
- Mohan Subbiah (Accounting and Finance)
- Konstantinos Georgalos (Economics)
- Joanne Larty (Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation)
- Chris Kirkbride (Management Science)
- Emre Tarim (Marketing)
- Lucas Introna (Organisation, Work and Technology)
- John Gordon
- To be confirmed
- Oleksandra Osypenko (FASS)
- To be confirmed (LUMS)
FASS-LUMS REC Terms of Reference are available from the Research Ethics Officer, email email@example.com
Additional information and guidance
There is additional guidance below on where to find further information about issues that may apply to your project.
- Guidance on research that involves the NHS (HRA) can be accessed from this link NHS sponsorship.
- Guidance for researchers using websites, social media and online sources can be accessed from these links, Social media quick guide and Guidance on using social media for research.
- Guidance on data protection issues can be obtained from the Data Protection Officer/Information Governance Manager, Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Guidance on the Freedom of Information Act can be obtained from the FOI Officer or on the FOI webpage.
- Management of data is an essential part of good research practice, guidance is accessible from this link Lancaster University Research Data Policy.
- Guidance on health and safety issues is available from the Safety Office website.
- If you are involved in any activities that may result in a conflict of interest with your research, contact the Head of Research Services.
- If any of the intellectual property to be used in the research belongs to a third party (e.g. the funder of previous work you have conducted in this field), please contact the Intellectual Property Team.
- If your work involves animals you will need authorisation from the Chief Administrative Officer. Also, you may need to submit an application to AWERB; contact the Secretary to AWERB, Lucy Sanderson for further details.
- If your research involves either the nuclear industry, or an aircraft, or the aircraft industry (other than for transport), please provide details in your ethics application. This information is required by the University insurers.
- Online Research Integrity training is available for staff and students along with a Research Integrity self-assessment exercise.
- Guidance on research with children Sept 2017. Please note that this is a working document and it is intended for guidance.
- Human Tissue Act Guidance
- Information about transcription software supported by Lancaster University can be found on the data protection and Access to speech recognition software webpages.
Research involving the NHS
If you are applying for NHS sponsorship you should follow the NHS sponsorship guidance. All other applicants (staff and PhD/MPhil students) should continue to submit their ethics applications to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee in the usual way by following the guidance on the ‘How to apply’ section of this webpage; or if you are an Educational Research PhD student follow the guidance in the ‘Important Application notes section’.
Amendments to previously approved projects
If, after an ethics application has been approved, the design of a research project changes the researcher should apply to the FASS-LUMS REC for further ethics review and approval by submitting an amendment in REAMS before any proposed changes are implemented. (For example, if alternative or additional research methods will be used or the sample population changes). For further information about changes and submitting amendments to the Committee for review please follow the guidance on the webpage.
If you are unsure about whether your proposed changes require ethics approval please contact the Research Ethics Officer for advice, email email@example.com.
Undergraduate and Master's projects
Undergraduate (UG) and Master's coursework and dissertations that involve the generation of data with human participants need to be ethically approved before human participants are approached and before any data is generated. Responsibility for ethical review of UG and Master's projects lies within the Departments.