Ethics and Integrity

The School of Health in Social Science fosters a culture of responsible research conduct as part of our commitment to excellent research.

The School takes a proactive approach to research ethics and integrity; one designed to anticipate and offset potential problems. We encourage an ethics-aware culture and support all our researchers to consider ethics at the outset of the research process.

All research undertaken by staff and students at the School of Health in Social Science requires prior ethical approval. 

Staff ONLY should refer to the HiSS Research Ethics and Integrity Sharepoint.

Students, and their Supervisors, should follow these instructions:


Before seeking review, you must undertake the University’s Introduction to Research Ethics and Integrity training, and Data Protection for Research.

The Research Ethics and Integrity course is offered by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

The Data Protection course is offered by the Data Protection Office. 

All staff and students must conform to the University of Edinburgh Ethics Policy, and the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research.

The Edinburgh Research Office holds a comprehensive list of training and resources relating to research ethics and integrity.

You should also familiarise yourself with the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences guidance Research Ethics and Integrity.

If any of the following topics are relevant to your research, you should familiarise yourself with guidance on:

Health and Safety

All those traveling on University Business are strongly advised to consult the University’s Business Travel Guidelines. Here you will find up-to-date information on insurance, safety, travel, health, and what to do in case of an emergency.

It is strongly recommended that anyone travelling on behalf of the University arrange travel insurance and if necessary undertake a travel risk assessment. Health advice for those traveling overseas can be provided by the University Occupational Health Unit, including pre-travel consultations and appropriate vaccinations.

Making an ethics application


To seek review, you must first check whether your research requires Sponsorship. If so, you must seek Sponsorship first, and once awarded submit an ethics application to the Health in Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee as per the instructions below.

What is Sponsorship?

How to determine if your research requires sponsorship:

 The CAHSS Research Governance Coordinator will help you with your application. They can:

  • Determine whether your project requires sponsorship
  • Advise on whether your study comprises clinical audit, service evaluation or research
  • Identify what approvals are required (for example, ethics approval, NHS R&D) and how to gain those approvals
  • Support you to plan your study set-up and provide ongoing advice and support through participant recruitment and follow-up
  • Review and give Sponsor sign-off of applications to NHS Research Ethics Committees and for NHS Management Approval (R&D)
  • Provide assistance regarding amendments to running projects

You can contact the CAHSS Coordinator via email:

How to apply for sponsorship

CAHSS Sponsorship ProForma


Projects which undergo NHS REC review (via IRAS) do not need further approval from the HiSS REC, however we need to note your application within our system. Therefore you can not proceed with your data collection until you send the HiSS REC a Level 1 application, alongside a copy of your IRAS application and favourable opinion letter so it can be noted and tracked.

NHS Research & Development

Projects which require NHS R&D approval only (no NHS REC), do require review by the HiSS REC and should be submitted for review after Sponsorship approval has been given.

HiSS REC Review

Once you have Sponsorship, or a letter confirming you do not require Sponsorship, you should apply to the HiSS REC for an ethical review. Please include with your application a copy of the confirmation from the Sponsorship office that your study does not require Sponsorship.

Both Sponsorship and REC Review MUST be in place before your research begins. Both processes may be lengthy, and you should take this into account when planning your research.

Applications for UG and Taught MSc students must be submitted by the Supervisor. PhD/MScR students are responsible for completing their own application unless otherwise decided.

To apply to the Committee for a review of your research please complete the HiSS Ethics Application form:

Other templates you may find useful:



Once complete, send the form and any accompanying documents to:

Remember to:

  • Send one application per email
  • Send the form as an MS Word document
  • Send documents as attachments or in zipped folders, we are unable to access files shared in other ways

The Committee will begin to review your application once it has been received in full. Incomplete applications will be returned to you. The following timelines for review apply once a complete application has been received and acknowledged:

Subject area Level 1 Level 2
Clinical Psychology up to 2 weeks up to 6 weeks
CPASS up to 2 weeks up to 10 weeks
Nursing Studies up to 2 weeks up to 6 weeks

How to decide if your research is a level 1 application or level 2?

What happens next?

Accepted Applications

Once a completed application is received it is assigned a review number. You will be emailed with a note of this number. You must quote this number in all correspondence with the HiSS REC about your application. Any correspondence received without a review number will result in delays to the processing of your application.

While your application is being reviewed

Your application will be reviewed by a team from your subject area. They may contact you to ask for further information, clarification, or changes to your application or recommend alternative procedures. This process will continue until the Subject REC is satisfied that your proposed research can be awarded a "favourable opinion".

Once your application has been reviewed

You will receive an email to confirm that your application has received a "favourable opinion". This is not an endorsement of your research, rather it reflects the fact that your application was reviewed by members of the HiSS REC using their expertise as Ethics Leads. If you require confirmation of this for external bodies, simply reply to your "favourable opinion" email to let the ethics administrator know, and a formal letter will be returned to you.

Making changes to your application, after you have received a "favourable opinion"

If you need to change anything about your application after you have received a "favourable opinion" you should annotate the final draft of your application (the one which received "favourable opinion"), highlight your changes in yellow, and return the form to the HiSS REC - stating your original review number. The same timelines apply as above, as does the guidance about full and complete applications.

Should you need to make additional changes following approval of an amendment, one further amendment will be accepted by the HiSS REC - after which you will be required to submit a new application.

Amendments will be reviewed under the same timescales as Level 1 applications (see above). 

Research ethics committee

The HiSS REC meets regularly. It is Chaired by the School’s Ethics Lead, Committee membership includes the Director of Research, representation from each Subject Area, and staff from the School’s Research Office.

The remit of the HiSS REC is to:

  1. Oversee the School of Health in Social Science’s arrangements for Research Ethics approval for research conducted by staff and students
  2. Consider applications for ethical approval from the School of Health in Social Science
  3. Provide advice and support to the School Ethics Lead
  4. Participate in the Research Ethics Committee of the College of Humanities and Social Science

Questions for the School Research Ethics Committee should be directed to

Research Misconduct

Research carried out under the auspices of the School of Health in Social Science should always comply with the UK Research Integrity Office’s Code of Practice for Research.

The UKRIO Code of Practice underpins the Universities UK Concordat for Research Integrity:

Universities UK Concordat for Research Integrity

UK Research Integrity Office’s Code of Practice for Research

Research misconduct could include, but is not limited to:

  • Fabrication
  • Falsification
  • Plagiarism
  • Misrepresentation
  • Breach of duty of care
  • Failure to meet ethical, legal and professional obligations
  • Improper dealing with allegations of misconduct

Research misconduct could include errors that are made unwittingly.

Read more about the University’s definition and approach to research misconduct in the University of Edinburgh’s Research Misconduct Policy and Research Misconduct information pages.

The School of Health and Social Science has a robust procedure in place to deal effectively with complaints or concerns about research conduct. Complaints should be made by email to the Head of School