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Department of Computer Science and Technology


Research in the Computer Laboratory may involve various kinds of users, experimental volunteers, data participants and others. This ranges from the trivial, such as asking colleagues to assist with the evaluation of new software, or using existing datasets, through to the complex, such as putting subjects in stressful situations or making interventions in their personal lives. In all cases, it is important to plan the research carefully, not least to ensure scientific validity, and to consider any ethical issues.

The Computer Laboratory adopts a lightweight ethical review model, informed by current practice and in consultation with other Schools and Universities. Before preparing an ethics application, please consult the guidance available on the School of Technology Research Guidance site

To request ethical review after consulting this guidance, please use this review form.

Note that this review form runs on a departmental database server, only accessible from the Computer Laboratory VPN (this is known locally as VPN2, and is not the same as Eduroam WiFi or the University VPN). When first accessing this server, you may be asked to authenticate using your Computer Laboratory network credentials (CRSID + Kerberos/filer/SSH password). This is not the same as your University Raven credentials (CRSID + UIS password). Only staff and graduate students of the Computer Laboratory have access to VPN2 and this local server. It cannot be access by undergraduates, who should ask their project supervisor to submit this form on their behalf

If you do not have the appropriate access to submit the form yourself, the questions on the form can be seen in this read-only ethics version.

The review process

The review process may involve up to three stages:

  1. Self-assessment, which may lead to
  2. Departmental review, which may require guidance from a
  3. Specialist panel.

Stage 1: Self-assessment

Every research project in the department should be preceded by consideration of ethical issues, including general issues of research governance, plagiarism, and whether or not the research involves human participants.

The Ethics Committee recommend that individual self-assessment is carried out by the researcher who will undertake the research. The aim of this assessment is for the researcher concerned to consider whether any ethical concerns are raised. If there are no ethical concerns, then the researcher may proceed with their research work. However, if the researcher has any doubts concerning the ethics of their proposed research work, or whenever the research involves human subjects, the researcher should proceed to Stage 2 (see below).

University policy statements and guidelines may be useful when undertaking self-assessment:

Stage 2: Departmental review

For all studies involving human participants, self-assessment is not sufficient, and the applicant should inform the Ethics Committee of the nature of the study. This should be done using the review form. (As described above, this form can only be accessed using the department network and credentials. A read-only version is also available for those without the necessary permission.) 

If an undergraduate wishes to conduct an experiment involving human subjects (e.g. for their Part II project), then they should request the assistance of a member of staff (typically their supervisor) who will be able to review their proposal and submit the form. Students should consult the read-only version of the form to see what information is needed, and pass this on to their supervisor for checking and submission.

The Ethics Committee will consider your application and assess the adequacy of the information provided, requesting further details if necessary, and potentially making suggestions for adjustment of the proposed research. In the vast majority of cases, the Ethics Committee is able to approve the proposal and the research can go ahead. Problematic cases will proceed to Stage 3 (see below).

Stage 3: Specialist panel for human participation in technology research

If the Ethics Committee believe further guidance is required, your research proposal will be referred to an expert review panel within the School of Technology or in another school if appropriate.