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Welcome to Northumbria University's research ethics and integrity web pages.

This page has been developed to accommodate Northumbria University's policies, practices and guidance around research ethics and in order to promote best practice for the ethical conduct of research.

Ethical approval must be obtained for all research projects prior to the commencement of the research.

Guidance from the University for undertaking your research during COVID-19

Securing an amendment

You do not have to submit an amendment if the only change to the project is moving from face to face interactions to remote interaction providing your project meets the requirements detailed below.

  • You use the University’s preferred platform of Microsoft Teams for interviews, or you use a telephone
  • Online data collection is secure - please refer to the guidance here
  • Working in a remote manner does not constitute a substantial change. A substantial change to a research project is one that alters the potential risk or harm to participants. For example, if your research deals with sensitive issues you will need to submit an amendment. This is because (i) you may be less readily able detect stress in the participant or refer them to support services (ii) securing a confidential space may be more difficult in a ‘lockdown’ scenario.

Any member of staff who is unsure whether an amendment is required should consult their Department Ethics Lead. Any student who is unsure about how to proceed should consult their Supervisor.





Pausing your research

If you need to pause your research, you need to notify all participants that you have recruited to the study whether the study has commenced or not.  Communications with participants who have already been engaged in the study should be as comprehensive as possible and enable any planned debriefing etc. You do not need to submit an amendment in order to pause your study.




Doctoral students

If you are a student with time constraints around conducting your research and cannot conduct remote participant interactions, you should change your research to involve secondary data analysis where possible. You should discuss your approach with your supervisor.

If you are a final year PGR student you may apply for an amendment.





Face to Face Research with Human Participants

It remains the case that using online methods to gather data brings advantages for staff and students undertaking research at the current time. Advice on using online methods can be found below.  Online data collection methods can save time, cost, and avoid any pauses or changes to the research should a Covid-19 wave result in additional social distancing or safety measures.

Update: 10 December 2021

Northumbria University is mandating the use of face coverings whilst moving through buildings and where 2m social distancing or 1m+, with further risk mitigation (such as the use of screen), cannot be maintained (unless exempt).  This requirement applies in research environments, including those where face-to-face research methods with study participants are deployed. In-person studies with human participants can still proceed provided that the research is conducted in a covid-secure way and appropriate risk assessments and ethical approvals are in place. Those seeking ethical approval for projects that do involve in- person studies with participants can find further details at our research ethics and integrity webpages. The newly updated guidance around the use of face coverings means that risk assessments for approved projects must be reviewed and revised as necessary, and new controls may be required.

The University has a Covid-19 Information page with further information, notification forms and copies of the overarching risk assessments which form the basis for project-specific risk assessments.  Risk assessments are a dynamic tool to ensure that safety considerations are addressed and mitigated on an ongoing basis. As such changes to a study’s risk assessment will not require an amendment on the ethics online system. However, the Study Lead or Principal Investigator must ensure that safety measures are adapted as appropriate and communicated to study participants.  In the case of UGT/ PGT/ PGR, Supervisors must ensure that students are aware of the latest guidance and that risk assessments and safety measures pertaining to projects are reviewed and up to date.

Please ensure that research participants  are aware of current requirements to wear a face covering when transiting through building and ensure they’re aware of any requirements for a face covering during the research. Research participants should also be reminded not to attend campus if they have symptoms of Covid-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) or have tested positive/need to self-isolate. Research participants should also be encouraged to take a lateral flow test in the 24 hour period prior to attending campus or participating in the research study.

If a research participant subsequently informs you that they have tested positive for Covid-19 within 72 hours of being on campus, or participating in the study, please contact for advice and guidance.

We have an established process for staff and PGRs to apply for face-to-face research with human participants using the ethics online system. Additionally, undergraduate and postgraduate taught students may now also undertake face to face research with human participants, within the scope set out here.

For new applications, please use the Ethics Online System

For an amendment to an existing ethics application please use this form.

Please contact if you have any queries.

Remote working and data protection

Please refer to the guidance here



Sources of useful information


Internet mediated research

For further information from Research and Innovation Services click here (internal link)




Additional information from external agencies for undertaking research during the COVID -19 pandemic

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) 

This guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care provides information on the impact on COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR.

NHS Health Research Authority (HRA) 

This guidance relates to Research Ethics Committee (REC) and NHS arrangements. As the situation is still evolving, please check back at the link for updates. 

Examples of substantial and non-substantial amendments can be found here.

With effect from 25 March 2020, the HRA has stopped reviewing applications for individual undergraduate and master’s student projects from now until further notice. Click here for further details which relates to health and social care research projects conducted by undergraduate and master’s students.

HRA have changed how they operate to prioritise COVID-19 related research. They have also published guidance to support sponsors, sites and researchers during this time.

Recruiting patients to COVID-19 clinical trials

CMOs and NHSE Medical Directors have produced this letter regarding the recruitment of patients to COVID-19 clinical trials.

Medical Research Council (MRC)

Please check here for updates relating to COVID-19 guidance.

Support and guidance for those conducting research with human participants, their tissues or data can be found here.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) 

This guidance relates to the management of clinical trials. 

Human Tissue Authority (HTA)

The HTA has produced guidance and key information to support professionals working at HTA licensed establishments.

Nuffield Council on Bioethics

Nuffield Council on Bioethics has produced this guidance.

UKRI COVID-19 support for researchers and innovators

UKRI have produced this helpful guidance.


UKRIO Recommended Checklist for Research Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic for both existing and new research

The sections below detail all other policies and procedures relating to research ethics at Northumbria, as well as contact information for queries:


As set out in our Management of Research Misconduct Policy formal allegations should be made to the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee, Professor Louise Bracken

Northumbria University’s Research Integrity and Ethics Contact: Laura Hutchinson, Research Policy Manager, Research and Innovation Services

General Ethics Support queries, contact 

Ethics Directors: 

Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences, Research Ethics Director: Professor Mark Blythe

Faculty of Business and Law, Research Ethics Director: Dr Russell Warhurst

Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Research Ethics Director: Dr Ian Forbes

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Research Ethics Director: Professor Nick Neave

Ethics Online - research ethics approval system

Ethical approval must be obtained for all research projects prior to the commencement of the research.

Online Research Ethics and Governance Approval:

Access the system here Ethics Online

Staff and Postgraduate Research Students can access the User Guide here.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Students can access the User Guide here

Everyone can access Ethics Online FAQs here.

For System Support:

If you are an Undergraduate or Postgraduate Taught Student, please contact your Supervisor or Module Tutor.

If you are a Postgraduate Research Student, please contact your Supervisor.

If the Supervisor or Module Tutor cannot resolve the issue, they should refer to their Department Ethics Lead.

If you are a member of staff, please contact your Department Ethics Lead or Faculty Ethics Director. 

A support model detailing how to manage issues in the system can be found here (Northumbria staff only)

Business Case for an amendment to Ethics Online - to ensure that any future system developments are both cost effective and impact all system users, changes will only be made on receipt of a completed business case which is then approved by all Faculty Research Ethics Directors and Research and Innovation Services. Before completing the business case, you should consider if the proposal is appropriate as a change to the system or better solved by effecting policy/best practice within your department/faculty

**Please note that the Ethics Online System has recently been restored following the cyber incident. Applications are still live in MyForms (the workaround system which was developed) and coordinators and reviewers will still need to process submitted applications in this system**

If your ethics application was approved in MyForms and you need to submit an amendment, you must do this using the Ethics Online System as MyForms is now closed for new submissions/amendments.  In order to do this, you must first create a new application and mark it as externally approved. You then need to download your approval forms from MyForms (under Track Approval Progress) and then attach then to the new submission in the Ethics Online System.  The submission can then be submitted to the Coordinator for 'approval' (this is just a rubber-stamp as the submission has already been approved on MyForms), and once this is completed then the amendment can be created.

Concordat to Support Research Integrity

The Concordat to support research integrity was revised in October 2019, representing a renewed ambition to further strengthen the original Concordat, published in 2012. It provides the principles and commitments to ensure that research produced by, or in collaboration with, UK universities, research institutes and others undertaking research is underpinned by the highest standards of rigour and integrity.

The new Concordat, released in October 2019, retains the five core commitments of the 2012 version. All those engaged with research must be able to make these commitments:

  • Maintaining the highest standards of research integrity
  • Ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate
  • Embedding a culture of research integrity
  • Dealing with allegations of research misconduct
  • A commitment to strengthening research integrity

Concordat to support research integrity - October 2019 (pdf)

Northumbria University's contact for matters related to Research Integrity: Rachel Lawlor, Deputy Director, Research and Innovation Services

Documentation and Guidance

Click on the link to access the appropriate document:


For guidance relating to the NHS, please refer to the NHS-related Guidance tab below

For further information please contact

Ethics in Research Policy Statement

Northumbria University strives to uphold the highest standards of ethical practice in research and academic integrity. Irrespective of the nature and ethical complexity of a research project, staff and students are expected to ensure that their conduct is driven by the ethical imperative of respect, the intent to do no harm and to contribute to society’s knowledge and practice through engagement in research that has beneficent intent.

Northumbria University’s Ethics in Research Policy Statement 19-20 (pdf) can be viewed here.

Human Tissue Act related guidance

All Human Tissue Authority (HTA)-related guidance can be found on the new page: Research which requires External Approvals

Intellectual Property and Commercialisation

For information on IP and Commercialisation and to contact the team at Northumbria please click here

Legal Agreements for Research Projects

There are various legal contracts that will need to be in place during the lifetime of a research project.  The main ones are funding contracts, collaboration agreements, and contract research contracts.

All contracts relating to research are dealt with by the Legal Services Team within the Vice-Chancellors Department and Research and Innovation Services will work with Principal Investigators to ensure that Legal Services are instructed in respect to contractual arrangements.

Principal Investigators do not have authority under the University’s Financial Regulations to sign and enter into contracts on behalf of the University, hence ALL contracts must be reviewed by Legal Services and once finalised,  Legal Services will arrange for an authorised signatory within the appropriate Faculty to approve and sign off the contract.

From a research governance perspective, specific reference has been given to the following types of contracts  and the process for each  that must be followed:

Student Placement /Student Project Non-Disclosure Agreements

Material Transfer Agreements

Restricted Non-Disclosure Agreement for use as a confidentiality agreement for research transcription services. - For staff use only

Please note that the University’s standard NDA is used on a self-service basis.  Please complete the highlighted sections (restricted access) and then have it signed by both parties.  For Northumbria, the acceptable signatories are the Head of Department,  Faculty Business Manager, deputy Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor or Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor.  Once you have a fully signed agreement please email legal services at, providing details of the transcription services used and for which project, and attach a final executed copy of the agreement to the email.

Confidentiality Agreement Template

NHS-related guidance

All NHS-related guidance can be found on the new page: Research which requires External Approvals

Research Ethics and Integrity Handbook

 The Research Ethics and Integrity Handbook has been developed to contain all of Northumbria University’s policies, practices and guidance around research ethics and to promote best practice for the ethical conduct of research. 

Research which requires External Approvals

To find out what types of research require approval from outside the University, please visit our new page:Research which requires External Approvals

Training Resources

The University offers the following training resources in Ethics and Governance:

Core Academic Staff

All core academic staff must complete the mandatory Ethics Training module (incorporating Ethics Reviewer training from January 2020) every three years.

The training course is available on the e-Learning Gateway on the Staff Portal.

Non-Core Academic Staff and other staff types including Associate Lecturers, Collaborative Ventures Staff, Technicians, Demonstrators etc.

If your role requires you to be involved in the ethical approval process but you do not have access to the ethics training module on the e-Learning Gateway, you can access the training content on Blackboard via the Researcher Development at Northumbria organisation site. Click here to access Blackboard and click here for How to Navigate to the Researcher Development Blackboard Site.

Postgraduate Research Students

All postgraduate research students must complete Ethics Training before they commence their research.Students can access the training on Blackboard via the Researcher Development at Northumbria organisation site. Click here to access Blackboard and click here for How to Navigate to the Researcher Development Blackboard Site.

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