Petri dishes in the Biomedical Science labs

Research Ethics

The FHM Research Ethics Committee (FHMREC) oversees ethical review of proposed research that is not reviewed through research ethics mechanisms outside the University, such as the NHS Research Ethics Service.

A new Research Ethics Application Management System (REAMS) launched on the 1st of November 2021. Please see below for more information. 

A research project being conducted by FHM staff and/or postgraduate students should be submitted to the FHMREC for ethical review if it involves human participants (including secondary analysis of data gathered from humans) or other possible ethical risk factors, and is not being reviewed externally. A link to the application flow chart outlining the steps of ethical review is available on the 'Documentation' tab of this page.

The aim of the committee is to ensure that ethical considerations and issues are addressed in the conduct of research. The committee seeks to support and encourage the process of ethically conducted research in FHM. The committee structure includes members from all of the FHM divisions providing diversity in perspectives and speciality knowledge (see "committee membership" for members' expertise).

The Review Process

Guidance on application completion and resources can be found in the tabs at the bottom of this page. Please familiarise yourself with this information before beginning your application.

For questions about the logistics of the application process, please contact FHM Research Ethics.

For questions about ethical issues and application content, please contact the Secretary of the committee at FHM Research Ethics.

GDPR and Data management

FHMREC COVID-19

We realise that many of our FHMREC approvals have required amendments due to changes imposed by COVID-19 restrictions. We appreciate all those who have submitted amendments for approval as this is an essential part of our ethics process (i.e. any change to an approved application has to be through an amendment). With this in mind, and the fact that restrictions have changed, FHMREC recommends that new applications coming to us should design their consent, recruitment and participation around the restrictions at the time of submission but also include protocols that allow for changes to restrictions, if relevant. Please keep in mind that government, local and university rules may differ, therefore you may state in your application ”according to current government, local and Lancaster University guidelines”. We can then approve multiple protocols which will remove the need for an amendment and prevent further interruptions to your projects. If you are unsure about any aspects of gaining ethical approval, then please contact the Secretary of the ethics committee at FHM Research Ethics.

Tab Content: Applications

Please note that due to staff turnover it will take longer than usual to process applications during December. Thank you very much for your patience.

How to apply

Ethics applications should be submitted in REAMS, the university’s Research Ethics Application Management System, for projects by staff and PhD students.

If you are seeking to amend a research project that was submitted pre-REAMS, please see the amendments guide on how to request an amendment through REAMS.

Projects reviewed and approved by another organisation’s research ethics committee require Faculty Research Ethics Committee review before research can commence at Lancaster. 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 their Faculty Research Ethics Committee through REAMS. Please see the guidance on reciprocal approval of externally approved projects.

In addition to completing the application form in REAMS, you also 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 strongly recommend that you use the templates provided in the Documentation and Guidance tabs on this webpage as the basis of your supporting documents, such as your participant information sheet and consent form. The Lancaster University GDPR statement must be included in your PIS. 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 (Makaton). For more information go to the Makaton website.

For all sections of the form, be specific but concise in the information you provide. The reviewers on the ethics committee are academic colleagues from across FHM. They will not necessarily be from your subject area or discipline, so make sure to avoid subject-specific terminology and be as clear as you can.

Projects involving social media and participants recruited or identified through the internet require full ethics review (following ESRC and other guidelines). This is particularly important if the 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 source that is publicly available. However, this does not mean that the participants/members of this source also perceive it to be public. For more advice on the ethics of internet research, see the 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 Guidance for Researchers for important information to consider when designing your research and before you apply for ethical approval.

Please note that your ethics application will not be considered approved by the FHM REC until you receive an approval confirmation letter.

Amendments to previously approved applications

Please see the document Amendment Guidance for Research Ethics Application Management System (REAMS) for guidance on how to submit an amendment to a previously approved application in REAMS.

For questions about the logistics of the application process, or ethical issues and application content, please contact the FHM Research Ethics Officer.

Submission deadlines:

a. Projects including direct involvement of human subjects should be submitted by the committee deadline shown on the meeting calendar. Prior to the FHMREC meeting, you may be contacted by the lead reviewer for further clarification of your application. Please ensure you are available to attend the committee meeting (via Microsoft Teams) on the day that your application is considered if required to do so.

b. The following projects will normally be dealt with via chair’s action, and may be submitted at any time. Those involving:

i. existing documents/data only;

ii. the evaluation of an existing project with no direct contact with human participants;

iii. service evaluations.

iv. amendments to previously approved ethics applications.

NHS Research

If your research involves NHS patients or material from NHS patients (e.g. blood or tissue samples, etc.) an application to the NHS-REC and LU sponsorship office needs to be completed and submitted. More information for research in conjunction with the NHS can be found on the NHS sponsorship webpage. Do not fill in an FHMREC application form in REAMS.

If you are working with NHS staff members as participants in the study, then an application should be sent to the FHM REC and HRA. In order to do so, please see the guidance on the REAMS webpage under 'NHS Research and REAMS'. If you are unclear if you need HRA approval, please ask the R&D office of the trust you are working with for their advice. The FHM REC may ask for a letter from your trust or hospice, etc. to confirm that HRA approval is not needed. If you are working with patient material you will need to follow the human tissue act guidance. The HTA covers the storage of research material. Within Lancaster University you need to inform your local Biological safety committee and follow their processes for logging and storing material.

For questions about the logistics of the application process, or about ethical issues and application content, please contact the Secretary of the Committee at FHM Research Ethics.

Animals

If your research involves animals you will need to gain approval for your project via the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB). Please see the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body webpages and contact the secretary to AWERB, Lucy Sanderson for further details.

Tab Content: Committee Membership

The following people comprise the FHMREC Committee and briefly list their areas of particular expertise. Click their name to take you to their departmental staff profile where you can find out more about their specific areas of research.

Chair

  • Dr Laura Machin: Qualitative research methods; research on sensitive topics; recruitment of hard to access populations; elite interviewing; NHS ethical approval processes

Deputy Chair

  • Professor Roger Pickup: Ethical aspects involved in using questionnaires; research conducted under the Human Tissue Act; quantitative research methods; research requiring NHS ethics approval

Committee Members

Division of Health Research

  • Dr Maddy French: Mixed methods researcher; case study methodology; research into palliative and end-of-life care, social deprivation, and inequities
  • Dr Alex Kaley: Qualitative research; creative and participatory metholody; adult users of social care services (learning disabilities and dementia); public health
  • Dr Abigail Morris: [On leave for 2022-23] Mixed methods research; intervention development and evaluation; research on sedentary behaviour and physical activity; research in workplace health and wellbeing
  • Professor Ceu Mateus: Quantitative research methods, health economics, research requiring NHS ethics approval
  • Dr Heather Robinson
  • Dr Yakubu Salifu: Qualitative research; individual/dyad/focus group interviews; thematic analysis; health research in resource-limited context, research in palliative and end of life care

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences

  • Dr Muhammad Munir: Quantitative research methods, ethical aspect of working with experimental animals, research requiring ethics approval with reference to infectious diseases
  • Dr Rachael Rigby: Quantitative research methods, ethical aspects of working with experimental animals, ethical aspects of working with human tissue, research requiring NHS ethics approval

Lancaster Medical School

  • Dr John Appleby [On leave for 2022-23]Research ethics; reproductive ethics, medical innovation; research involving children

Lay Member

  • Gillian Mawby

Postgraduate Research Student Representatives

  • Sheona Shankland
  • Sarah Marsden

FHM Associate Dean for Research

FHMREC Committee Secretary/ Research Ethics Officer

For questions about ethical issues and application content, please contact the Secretary of the committee: Annie Beauchamp.

Tab Content: Committee Calendar

Dates for the academic year 2022-23

Please note that the deadline for applications is at the close of play on the dates given above. Applications received after 5.30pm on the day of the deadline may be rolled over to the next meeting.

Meeting date

Deadline for applications

22nd September 2022

5th September 2022

20th October 2022

3rd October 2022

17th November 2022

31st October 2022

15th December 2022

28th November 2022

19th January 2023

2nd January 2023*

16th of February 2023

30th January 2023

16th March 2023

27th February 2023

20th April 2023

3rd April 2023

18th May 2023

2nd May 2023**

15th June 2023

30th May 2023**

20th July 2023

3rd July 2023

*due to national holidays and University closure, applications may be received until 5th January 2023

**late submission deadline due to deadline falling on a Bank Holiday

Tab Content: Documentation and Guidance 2

NHS Sponsorship

Research with Children

Transcription

Please note that Lancaster University currently only has a data-sharing agreement with Nvivo and Microsoft (OneDrive and Teams) for transcription services. All other systems are not supported. A list of suggested software from ISS can be found here: Guidance from ISS on transcription software and technology.

If you are using a transcriber external to your research team they will have to sign a Confidentiality Agreement for the Transcription of Qualitative Data. See Sample transcriber confidentiality agreement for a template of this agreement.

Intellectual Property

For queries relating to Intellectual Property please e-mail the Intellectual Property Team (ext. 93298).

International Research