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 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.
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 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 FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee email@example.com. If you are uncertain whether your study requires review or not, please consult the checklist (see the section on 'how to apply') and guidance on our application form or contact the Committee Secretary. To note, ethical approval must be obtained before data collection.
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), for funded and non-funded projects. Ethics applications by UG 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 Committee.
Additional information can be found in the Research Ethics and Integrity webpage.
Industrial action: There may be delays in processing ethics applications during February and March 2022 due to industrial action.
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 Guidance on ethical considerations v3 document useful.
Important Application Notes
The procedures for seeking ethics approval depend on whether you are a staff member, research student (PhD) or undergraduate/masters student. To note, ethical approval must be obtained before collecting any data.
*Note for 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, instead of the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee. Therefore from 18th January 2018 follow the guidance in sections A,B and C below BUT send your application to your supervisor with this Checklist (for Educational Research students only). From 18th January 2018 students in the Department of Educational Research only Do not submit their ethics applications to the Ethics Officer's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Ethics Committee. To note, these arrangements apply to students in the Department of Educational Research only*, for further information go to the 'How to apply' section and follow the guidance under
‘Paper-based applications - Guidance for Educational Research PhD students’.
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 process please contact the Research Ethics Officer, Debbie Knight before you submit your application.
How to apply
Staff 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 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 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 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 commencing. (To note, if you are a PhD student in the Department of Educational Research your project will need to be submitted to your supervisor who will review it, then it will need to be approved by the Educational Research, Research Ethics Committee Chair/s. Educational Research PhD students cannot use REAMS yet, therefore they should continue to follow the guidance above* and below, under the heading, 'Paper based applications, guidance for Educational Research PhD students' from 1st February 2022 until further notice).
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 contact the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Officer for further guidance 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 the template Sample Participant Information Sheet 18-9-19 and Sample Consent Form 18-9-19 as the basis of your information sheet and consent form. 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 http://www.makaton.org/.
For all sections of the form, be specific but 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 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 (we are following ESRC and other guidelines on this). This is in particular the case 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 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 Guidance for Researchers for important information to consider when designing your research and before you apply for ethical approval.
Applicants must use REAMS from 1st February 2022. The exceptions to this are PhD students in the Department of Educational Research (see above*) and researchers whose ethics application requires NHS 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, 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, Debbie Knight, email email@example.com (Students in the Department of Educational Research only: submit your ethics 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 FASS-LUMS REC at their monthly meetings and the applicant may be asked to attend this meeting. We will contact you if your application will be discussed at the committee meeting. Please ensure you are available to attend the committee meeting on the day that your application is considered 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 be dealt with via chair’s action.
You can submit applications in REAMS at any time. If you have any questions about the ethics 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 as part of your study you will employ a transcriber, they will need to sign a confidentiality agreement. A sample of such an agreement can be found below.
Download documents for this section:
- Sample Participant Information Sheet 18-9-19
- Sample Consent Form 18-9-19
- Sample verbal consent protocol
- Confidentiality agreement for transcribers v2
Paper-based applications - Guidance for Educational Research PhD students
The information below is for PhD students from the Department of Educational Research only. The workflow in REAMS for Educational Research PhD students is currently under development therefore from 1st February 2022 it will be necessary to submit a 'paper based' ethics application in the usual way, following your department's current guidance.
- Complete the Application form FASS-LUMS (v02/19).
- Attach all relevant materials to your form (see the checklist at the end of the application form for guidance on ‘relevant materials’).
- Create a single Word or pdf document of all application materials in the order that you will use them (eg application form, followed by invitation letter, participant information sheet, consent form, interview questions, etc).
- Attach the document to an email andsend it to your supervisor.
For amendments to previously approved applications please complete and follow the instructions on this form: FASS-LUMS Research Ethics amendments form.
Further help and support
Further guidance and support related to policies and procedures can be found on the Research Ethics and Integrity webpage.
For any questions about the logistics of the application process or other questions about ethical issues in relation to your research, please contact the Committee Secretary
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 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:
- further information and revisions required
- referral to the FASS-LUMS 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 following are estimated times required for the review of ethics applications from staff and PhD students. We will do our best to not exceed these times. 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. Furthermore, it depends on the quality of your application (e.g. have you explained clearly and in lay terms what the project aims to do) 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.
- Applications requiring Chair’s action only: up to two weeks
- All other applications 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.
FASS-LUMS 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 its monthly meetings. Please submit your application by the committee deadline (see below).
Please 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 Committee Secretary and/or the Chair/Deputy Chair are away from the University. Applicants who would like their application to be considered at committee meeting need to submit their application by the committee deadline.
Each meeting is scheduled from 10am to 12noon
FASS –LUMS FREC
Committee Deadline for
No meeting in August
15 September 2021
8 September 2021
13 October 2021
30 September 2021
10 November 2021
28 October 2021
8 December 2021
23 November 2021
12 January 2022
18 December 2021
9 February 2022
24 January 2022
9 March 2022
20 February 2022
6 April 2022
18 March 2022
4 May 2022
16 April 2022
8 June 2022
12 May 2022
6 July 2022
18 June 2022
No meeting in August
Chair Karolina Follis
Deputy Chair Panos Athanasopolous
Committee Secretary (Faculty Research Ethics Officer): Debbie Knight
- Natasa Lackovic (Education Research)
- Richard Budd (Education Research)
- Sally Bushell (English and Creative Writing)
- Alex Wragge-Morley (History)
- Joseph Lindley (LICA)
- Katherine Ellsworth-Krebbs (LICA)
- Gary Potter (Law)
- Mary Guy (Law)
- Sebastian Muth (Linguistics and English Language)
- tbc (PPR)
- Joanna Kostka (Sociology)
- Patricia Prieto-Blanco (Sociology)
- Veronique Lane (DELC)
- Stacey Noble (Accounting and Finance)
- Konstantinos Georgalos (Economics)
- Joanne Larty (Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation)
- Peter Jacko (Management Science)
- Emre Tarim (Marketing)
- Yvonne Latham (Organiastion, Work and Technology)
- John Gordon
- Samuel Procter (LUMS)
- Mahmoud Afifi (FASS)
- FASS-LUMS REC Terms of Reference are available from the Committee Secretary, email Debbie Knight.
Additional information and guidance
The following provides guidance on where to find further information about issues that may apply to your project, regardless of whether you are a staff member, PhD student, undergraduate/postgraduate.
- Guidance on research that involves the NHS (HRA) can be found on our NHS sponsorship webpage.
- If relevant, guidance on data protection issues can be obtained from the Data Protection Officer - (contact the Information Governance Manager on 01524 510841 or email email@example.com)
- If relevant, guidance on the Freedom of Information Act can be obtained from the FOI Officer -
- Management of data is an essential part of good research practice - see Lancaster University Research Data Policy
- The health and safety requirements of each research project must be considered, further information is available from the Safety Office website
- If any of the research team will be working with an NHS Trust, consider who will be named as the Sponsor (if applicable) and seek agreement in principle. Contact the Committee Secretary for further information, firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are involved in any other activities that may result in a conflict of interest with this research, please contact the Head of Research Services (ext. 94905)
- If any of the intellectual property to be used in the research belongs to a third party (eg the funder of previous work you have conducted in this field), please contact the Intellectual Property Team (ext. 93298)
- If you intend to make a prototype or file a patent application on an invention that relates in some way to the area of research in this proposal, please contact the Intellectual Property Team (ext. 93298)
- If your work involves animals you will need authorisation from the Chief Administrative Officer and may need to submit an application to AWERB, please 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 as part of your 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
- Guidance on using social media for research
- 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 students) should continue to submit their ethics applications to the FASS-LUMS Research Ethics Committee in the usual way by following the guidance in the ‘How to apply’ section on 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 the design of a research project changes, for example, alternative or additional research methods are used or the sample population changes, the researcher may have to apply to the FASS-LUMS REC for further ethical approval within REAMS. Please see the Amendment Guidance for Research Ethics Application Management System (REAMS)
In case you are not certain whether the changes you have made require approval please contact the Committee Secretary for advice.
Undergraduate and Masters projects
UG and Masters coursework and dissertations that involve the generation of data with human participants need to be ethically approved before any data is generated. Responsibility for ethical review of UG and Masters projects lies within the Departments.