Do I need ethical approval?
- If I am observing people in my study, do I still need ethics approval?
If your study involves the act of observing people or any intervention, you will need to apply for ethics approval.
- If I am conducting an online survey, do I still need ethics approval?
Yes. Any study that involves human participants as part of the research needs ethical approval.
- Do I need to apply for ethics approval again if my supervisor(s) already obtained approval previously?
No, and the principal investigator (PI) will have to write to the chair of IHSREC to include your name in the list of researchers for the project.
- Can a retrospective ethics approval be granted for publication?
No. When a study is approved prospectively, it is possible for the committee to suggest changes to the research protocol. This, however, could not be done when the application is viewed retrospectively.
- Do I need ethical approval to carry out a pilot study?
Yes, if you intend to carry out a pilot study, you must first obtain ethical approval for it. Any research to follow up on the pilot study will also require ethical approval if you have made changes to your study as a result of the pilot. Refer also to point no. 27 [here].
- Do I need ethical approval to use secondary data?
If the privacy of the participant and the confidentiality of the data will be protected, the researcher can request a waiver of consent to access the collected data.
How do I complete my application?
- How do I start my application for ethics approval?
First, plan your research and write a research proposal. Then, fill in the application for ethics approval. Finally, submit your application to IHSREC via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What assistance is available to help me write the ethics application?
If you are a student at IHS, you will be given an ethics training workshop as part of your research module.
- I wish to apply for ethics approval. Is there a checklist for ethics application?
Yes. You can download the checklist on this webpage [click here].
- What are the essential documents that I must submit in my application for ethics approval?
You must submit by email to email@example.com the following:
- Your filled UREC form (RE01)
- Your full research proposal (including any applicable questionnaires, data collection forms and Gantt chart)
- The participant consent form (if applicable)
- The participant information sheet (if applicable)
- Signed and dated CVs of all researchers involved
- Any permission/approval letters (if applicable)
- IHSREC Risk & Sensitivity Assessment Form (IRSA)
- Activity-Based Assessment Form (ABRA)
- Your supervisor approval form for the submission of your ethics application (if you are a student)
The above must be printed for hard copy submission to the IHS Administration Office together with these:
- The checklist for submission of ethics application
- Your printed proof of email submission for ethics approval
Both printed and electronic copies of the above documents must be submitted to IHSREC.
- Where do I submit my application?
First, submit the electronic copies by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, submit the printed copies to IHS Administration Office either on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 14:00-15:00.
- Where can I download forms related to submission?
- How do I obtain a permission letter?
First, plan your research. Then, send your request for permission letter to the faculty assistant registrar, who will advise you accordingly on whom would provide the permission letter. The faculty assistant registrar will send the request for permission letter to the relevant body.
- Can I make a submission using electronic copies only?
No. You must submit both electronic and printed copies.
- Can I use digital signatures in the application for ethics approval?
Yes. Digital signatures are accepted.
- I understand a submission needs both electronic and printed copies. Since printed copies are required, how many copies must I submit?
For a submission to be reviewed by IHSREC only, you must submit two copies.
If you need data or facilities from the Ministry of Health (MoH), or if you have MoH members as your co-researchers, your submission will be reviewed by the joint committees of IHSREC and MHREC. In this case, you are required to submit three copies.
- As a student, am I required to present my proposal to the ethics committee in person?
Only if you are submitting an application as a postgraduate student application. Only postgraduate students are required to present in person.
- I managed to submit my application on time, but my application is incomplete. What will happen to my application?
Your application will not be processed for review and will not be discussed in the following meeting. You will be advised to submit a complete application by the next deadline.
- How do I find out about the deadline dates for ethics application?
You can find the deadline dates on this webpage [click here]. Submission of printed copies of the application should be made either on Tuesday or Wednesday between 2.00 PM and 3.00 PM.
What happens after submission?
- I have submitted a completed application by the deadline. How long does it take from submission to approval?
The review meeting usually takes place about two weeks after the deadline. You will hear about the outcome of the application in 4-6 weeks by email after the meeting.
- How often does the ethics committee meet, and what are the meeting dates?
The ethics committee meets typically once a month to review applications. The dates are published on this webpage [click here].
- Which ethics committee(s) will review and approve my project?
For staff application:
(A) (i) any study related to medical and health research will be endorsed by IHSREC and forwarded to MHREC for approval (ii) once approval is obtained, the researcher should bring this to the attention of IHSREC and IHSREC will forward this to UREC for consideration and final approval;
(B) any study related to animal research will be endorsed by IHSREC, submitted to Animal Research Ethics Committee for endorsement, and forwarded to UREC for final approval;
(C) any study not related to animal, medical and health research will be endorsed by IHSREC and forwarded to UREC for final approval.
For student application:
(A) any study related to medical and health research will be endorsed and approved by the joint committee of IHSREC and MHREC;
(B) any study not related to medical and health research will be endorsed and approved by IHSREC.
The joint committee of IHSREC and MHREC will review any student applications that use facilities and data from Ministry of Health (MoH) or that has MoH staff as co-supervisors.
- What happens after I submit my ethics application?
You will be notified of the committee’s decision by email, usually within 4-6 weeks, and will receive one of the following decisions: "Full Approval", "Conditional Approval" and "Resubmission as New Application".
For full approval, the email will advise you to collect the approval letter from the IHS Administration Office in seven (7) working days.
For conditional approval, the email may contain details of any revisions and clarifications which the committee requires, and sometimes the committee may make some suggestions about your research. Follow the resubmission guidelines, as stated in the email.
For resubmission as new application, the email may contain detailed reasons for a new application. You may submit a revised application to take into account the ethical issues raised and to demonstrate how the points highlighted by the committee have been addressed. You may also submit a new research proposal. Follow the resubmission guidelines, as stated in the email.
- Can I check the status of my application online?
This feature is not currently available.
What happens after approval?
- My application has been granted conditional approval. What should I do now?
Follow the resubmission guidelines given in the email when you received the conditional approval decision. Submit your amendments as an electronic copy to email@example.com within 30 days of the decision. No data shall be collected until full ethical approval is granted.
- For how long is my ethics approval valid?
The validity of your ethics approval will be stated in the “Ethics Approval Letter”, which is issued upon full approval.
- I have received ethics approval, but I now need to make amendments to my study methods or research project. What should I do?
No deviation or changes to the approved protocol is allowed without prior approval of IHSREC. The principal investigator (PI) must email to notify the committee as soon as reasonably possible. The committee will review the amendment submission and respond in writing to either approve the amendment or request for further information.
- What happens once the research is over?
As stated in your ethics approval letter, you are required to submit a final report within one month of expiry of the validity of the ethics of the research project. The final report should contain ethics reference number, name of the researchers, student ID & programme (if student), and the ethics validity period. The report should include the study title, study aims, study objectives, results, conclusion of the study, and publication (if any).
- Apart from the IHSREC ethics webpage, where else can I get further information or advice?
For further information or advice, you may write to the chair of IHSREC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How do I raise a complaint with the ethics committee?
You can write an email which is addressed to the chair of IHSREC at email@example.com.
- When can I start collecting data?
Data collection can only start when full ethical approval is granted (IHSREC or joint committee of IHSREC and MHREC for students; UREC for staff). Data must not be sought beforehand, and any data collected beforehand must not be used.
- Who owns the data?
The ownership of the original data must be acknowledged. For example, if you are using data from the Ministry of Health (MoH), then the data remains under the property of MoH and you must appropriately acknowledge the source. All collected data should be stored securely throughout the research project.
- What is a responsible conduct of research?
The research is conducted in compliance with the protocol approved by the ethics committee (IHSREC or MHREC for students; UREC for staff). Supervisors are encouraged to monitor the progress and research activities of undergraduate and postgraduate researchers.