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Durham University

Research and Innovation Services

Operational Guildelines for Ethics Sub-Committees

1. Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees

The responsibilities of Faculty Ethics Sub-Committees are to:

a) Implement University policy on ethical review at Faculty level

b) Communicate decisions or advice provided by Ethics Advisory Committee to departmental Sub-Committees

c) Advise upon and approve departmental Sub-Committee activity

d) Provide guidance to support departmental processes where appropriate and approve departmental arrangements for ethical review and monitoring.

e) Review those proposals upon which departmental Sub-Committees are unable to make a decision

f) Consider appeals against decisions made by departmental sub-committees

g) Monitor the activity of departmental Sub-Committees by receiving and collating reports of activity and decisions. An annual report of activity across the Faculty will be provided to the Ethics Advisory Committee.

2. Departmental Ethics Sub-Committees

Every department must establish procedures, with clear lines of responsibility, to allow the monitoring and consideration of ethical issues. This should take into account appropriate ethical frameworks for the relevant discipline. The procedures must conform to University and Faculty requirements, should be agreed by the Board of Studies and should be formally reported to the Faculty Sub-Committee.

Departments facing substantive ethical issues should establish an Ethics Sub-Committee with membership as per the University requirements. Where appropriate, departments facing similar issues or with low flows of applications may wish to establish a joint Sub-Committee. At minimum, departments must establish processes through which ethical consideration and approval can be managed. This may be achieved in co-operation with another departmental Sub-Committee. These processes must be approved by the Faculty Sub-Committee.

The responsibilities of the departmental Sub-Committees, where established, are to:

a) implement University policy on ethical review at departmental level;

b) undertake ethical review of all research proposals for which approval is required by University, faculty and/or discipline-specific requirements;

c) identify policy or procedural issues that require consideration by the Faculty Sub-Committee and / or Ethics Advisory Committee.

Departmental Ethics Sub-Committees must keep a record of the decisions that they make. A consolidated list should be provided annually to the Faculty Sub-Committee which will then report to Ethics Advisory Committee in the Michaelmas term.

3. Referrals

Faculty Sub-Committees are entitled to request advice and / or a decision from the Ethics Advisory Committee on problematic issues. Departmental Ethics Sub-Committees are entitled to request advice and / or a decision from the appropriate Faculty Ethics Sub-Committee, or may request advice from another departmental Sub-Committee with relevant expertise.

4. Cross-departmental and cross-faculty proposals

Some research and other projects include the activities of staff from two or more departments. In such cases the expectation is that the project is normally considered by only one Sub-Committee, this being the departmental Sub-Committee that the proposers deem to be the most appropriate for the project in question. If necessary, the project may be referred to a Faculty Sub-Committee after discussion with the Chair of that Sub-Committee. There is an expectation that in considering the proposal, the Sub-Committee in question will involve a member of the other departmental (or Faculty) Sub-Committee(s) relevant to the application.

5. Membership

All Ethics Sub-Committees must include one or more independent external members as laid down by Ethics Advisory Committee. However, where Faculty Sub-Committees are meeting only to monitor the activities of departmental Sub-Committees (i.e. they are not considering applications) then external independent members need not be present.