Research ethics

Research at the University of Plymouth is conducted according to the principles of integrity, academic excellence, accountability, inclusiveness and professionalism. 

All research must follow appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards. 

The Research Ethics Policy and the Code of Good Research Practice have been drawn up to conform with the principles laid out in other relevant policies, guidelines and codes of conduct, including those of funding bodies such as the Research Councils and the Universities UK’s Concordat to Support Research Integrity.

The Research Ethics Policy describes the principles underpinning the ethical conduct of research and defines the process and principles for the objective and rigorous ethical review of research which falls within its scope.

It is expected that all research undertaken at the University will be conducted in compliance with the Code of Good Research Practice, which sets out the University’s commitment to research integrity.

Additionally, the University Research Data Policy provides guidelines for good practice in research data management and open access to research data as an integral part of high-quality research.

This policy applies to all employees, students and visiting researchers of the University, including persons holding honorary University appointments and students on placements, who conduct research within, or on behalf of, the University.

All members of the University are individually responsible for ensuring that their work is conducted in accordance with the University values and with all policies that form part of the terms and conditions of employment or study. Disregard for with this policy may lead to the failure of assessed work; the suspension of study/research projects, and/or funding from research sponsors; or to the inability to publish. 

Work conducted without the appropriate ethical approval (where required) or in deliberate contravention of the decisions of the Faculty Research Ethics and Integrity (FREIC) Chair would not be covered by the University’s indemnity arrangements.

The following research is subject to additional regulations and requires review through the appropriate research ethics committee/process and to be formally approved before it is undertaken:

Research that may raise other significant ethical issues or pose a reputational risk to researchers or the institution should also be referred for advice and/or review from the appropriate Faculty Research Ethics and Integrity (FREIC) Chair or the University’s Research Ethics and Integrity Committee (UREIC) Secretary.

The purpose of ethical review is not to discourage controversial or high-risk research, but rather, to recognise and manage potential harms and risks related to the pursuit area of research.

For the purpose of this policy, research is defined as original investigation undertaken in order to acquire knowledge and understanding.

This would include:

  • the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, leading to new or substantially improved insights;
  • work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors;
  • scholarship such as the creation, development and maintenance of the intellectual infrastructure of subjects and disciplines (e.g., dictionaries, catalogues and research databases);
  • the use of existing knowledge and experimentation to develop new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction.

Research would not normally include:

  • routine audit and evaluation, such as the routine evaluation of teaching, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques;
  • the development of teaching materials and activities that do not involve original research;
  • purely documentary research on sources that are already in the public domain such as historical, literary, and theoretical research;
  • routine testing and analysis of materials and processes.

Health and human sciences/medicine and dentistry

Research ethics Information

Business

Research ethics Information

Arts and humanities

Research ethics Information

  • Arts and humanities research ethics and integrity Sub-committee (ArtREISC) covering the schools of (1) humanities and performing arts and (2) art, design and architecture. Chair: Dr Katharine Willis.
  • Education Research Ethics and Integrity Sub-committee (EdREISC). Chair Professor Jocey Quinn.
Science and engineering