Research ethics

Keele is committed to conducting high quality research underpinned by appropriate ethical standards for the benefit of society and in the public’s interest. It recognises the benefits of a positive culture of ethical reflection, debate and mutual learning particularly against the continuing emergence of new situations and research methodology which require creative approaches to ethics issues.

Review by a research ethics committee (REC) is required where research involves humans, their data[1] or biomaterial[2]; risk of damage to the environment; risk of damage to any artefacts of cultural significance; politically or socially sensitive topics with impact on the welfare and interests of local, national or international communities; potential reputational risk to the researchers or University or where a source of funding has the potential to compromise the University’s position as a publicly funded charitable body.

Applicants should familiarise themselves with the standard operating procedures of the applicable REC before making an application for ethical opinion. This includes (but is not limited to); how to complete an application, ongoing expectations for oversight and reporting to the reviewing REC and closure of the project once complete.


[1] Includes primary data originating from human subjects (e.g. anonymous questionnaires or identifiable interview data); and the use of secondary data, which originated from or is about human subjects, which was initially provided for other purposes (e.g. other research projects or organisational datasets).
[2] Anything that originates from a human subject including: cells; tissues; organs; bodily fluids (e.g. blood, plasma, spinal fluid); secretions and excretions (e.g. breath, urine); outgrowths (e.g. hair, nail, teeth).


Research Ethics Policy

The Keele University Research Ethics Policy explains the University's stance in relation to research ethics review and the creation, operation and monitoring of research ethics committees.  The document can be downloaded via the link below:


Helpful links


How to apply for University REC review

Each of the five University RECs has its own defined processes and documentation for applicants. If you are unsure about the REC appropriate for your project, please refer to this diagram: Selecting a REC.

Note for projects undergoing ethical review by an Ethical Review Panel (ERP) prior to 12 November 2018
For projects which are currently going through University Ethical Review Panels (ERPs) under the old system (prior to 12 November 2018), these will continue to do so until favourable ethical opinion has been granted. Information relating to these processes can be found here.

Once a favourable ethical has been received, the ongoing review will be transferred to an appropriate REC under the new system in accordance with the Selecting a REC diagram, available here: Selecting a REC.

Note for projects that have previously received ethical review by an Ethical Review Panel (ERP)
For projects which have received a favourable opinion from an ERP prior to 12th November 2018 applicants will need to seek reassignment of their project to one of the new RECs before submitting an amendment.

Applicants must complete and submit the online form Amendment Request for Projects with ERP Codes.

Following submission of the form the Applicant will be notified of the identity of the new reviewing REC and will be provided with an updated REC reference to allow submission of the amendment through the REC system.


Frequently asked questions

All amendments to applications must be made through the new University Ethics system. To determine which Committee you should apply to, follow the Selecting a REC diagram - Selecting a REC

The CREC criteria intends to capture projects in which the intervention creates those criteria, i.e. the intervention introduces a risk of harm as listed under criteria 4 and had the project not been ongoing the participant wouldn't be exposed to that risk. Where the risk is, in the researchers opinion, increased to a degree that further ethical scrutiny is required. The Applicant should consider the ethical issues and identify the appropriate REC accordingly. If, following consideration of this, you are still uncertain, the applicable FREC Chair can be contacted via the FREC Administrators.

Exceptionally, research activity carried out by the University may not fall under a particular Faculty. Under this circumstance, and where the activity does not fall under the CREC Criteria, please contact research.governance@keele.ac.uk who will work with you to identify the most appropriate FREC to provide an opinion on your application.

All University RECs operate in accordance with their own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which are available under the appropriate web page. Should you have a specific question about your application outside of this, please contact the appropriate REC Administrator in the first instance.

For further support, please contact the Administrator of the relevant REC.