Research Ethics - CITY College, University of York Europe Campus
Κολέγιο CITY College
Main Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece

What is Research Ethics?

Generally we can categorise “Ethics” into two categories:

  • Research Ethics
  • Professional Ethics

In engineering disciplines “Professional Ethics” is by far the major concern [see IEEE code of conduct and ACM ethics].  It covers the issues concerning professional conduct and legal issues that may arise from problems related to the engineering profession. For example, for Software Engineers a major issue could be about the implications that the use (or misuse) of a software product might have in the life and economy of people, and specifically about the liabilities when a software system does not function as it should.

“Research Ethics” (for engineering disciplines) is mainly concerned with the issues of plagiarism and collusion, publishing, intellectual property rights, etc. However, in cases where the research is done by collecting and analysing primary data from third party participants, the researcher has to take care that the process is done ethically. This means that the researcher must have considered any ethical issues that may arise in relation to i) the participants, ii) to himself and iii) to his research.

 

Research Ethics Committee of the Computer Science Department

The department expects all research to abide by the University of York Code of Practice and principles for Good Ethical Governance, the Code of Practice on Research Integrity, and the British Computer Science's code of conduct. In order to ensure that any research conducted by a member of the department (student, staff or otherwise) is abiding to the ethics policy of the University of York, the computer science department has established an ethics committee. The committee is responsible for a) informing all members about the ethics process, and b) making sure that any research associated with the department is done with full consideration on any ethical issues, and in compliance to the University’s ethics principles. The committee includes the Director of Research and the Principal Ethics Administrator, who are available to offer advice on any issue regarding research ethics to staff and students.

Any member of staff or student of the department participating in research that involves a sensitive issue or where human participants will be contacted directly or indirectly, should apply for ethics approval to the ethics committee. Using direct contact methods, information is gathered directly from third parties (e.g. though interviews or questionnaires). Indirect contact is when the research involves personal information of human subjects, even when no data collection is conducted. In order to apply for ethics approval the researcher should complete an online form and wait for comments from the appointed reviewers. The research may begin only after an approval is given. For support about completing the online form students should contact their supervisor or the Principal Ethics Administrator of the computer science department, Dr Kostas Dimopoulos (k.dimopoulos@york.citycollege.eu). In addition, the University's ethics web pages contain important guidance on research ethics for staff and postgraduate research students. It is useful to read this before completing your ethics application:

CITY College Ethics in Research Guiding Principles

Research conducted outside Greece should take into consideration political, social and cultural sensitivities, and should as well comply with the statutory and regulatory requirements of the country/countries in question.

As social media have now become a necessary communication and research tool, York University provides Social Media Guidance for Researchers.

Research is not allowed to begin until the ethics approval process is completed (usually within two weeks).

 

Research Ethics Approval Procedures of the Computer Science Department

How to obtain Ethics Approval for your Research?

To apply for Ethics approval you need to follow these steps:

1. Download CITY College Ethics Application Form, and any other relevant ethics document (e.g., information & consent forms).

2. If you are a student, discuss with your supervisor in order to finalise the Ethics Application Form and complete all relevant documentations.

3. Once your supervisor has signed the CITY College Supervisor Approval Form, you should submit your application and the relevant additional documentation.

The next steps taken by the Department are:

4. Your Ethics Application will be then reviewed by the department, and one of the following decisions will be communicated to you by the departmental Ethics Coordinator:

4.1. Approved: Nothing to do. Proceed with your project.

4.2. Compulsory Changes: You will have to revise your Application with the help of your supervisor, edit your original submission and re-submit (step 2 and 3 above).

4.3. Not Approved. In the rare event of your Research Project not being approved on ethics grounds, you will have to design a new study and submit a new Ethics Application Form (following steps 2 and 3).

Notice that failing to obtain Ethics approval before commencing any Research Project involving Human participants or/and personal data will constitute a breach of CITY College Ethics Policy, and it will be dealt with under CITY College Policy for malpractice, impropriety or wrongdoing, and CITY College, University of York Europe Campus, Regulations.

 

Information Sheets, Consent Forms and other Templates

Download CITY College templates for additional Ethics application documents such as those relating to participants information and consent, debriefing and accessibility letter.

Special consideration should be given to research involving vulnerable groups, sensitive topics or deception. Potentially vulnerable groups may include, but are not limited to, children people with learning disabilities or with mental impairment due to health or lifestyle, ex-prisoners, migrants & ethnic minorities, and those unable to consent or understand the research. Potentially sensitive topics might include political views, sexual orientation, religion, trade union membership, drug use, etc.

 

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