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WARNING - the Computer Science ethics system is obsolete

Ethics projects which have already been submitted will be processed.

New projects WILL NOT be considered.

Use the central University Ethics system instead.

For Researchers

Principle Investigator / Independent Scholar / Other Researcher: There are some issues that really only relate to PIs CI's and the like, and so if you are one of these, this is the page for you!

It is your job to make sure your research projects are entered into the ethics system. This is because the university wants to keep a record of all projects, as part of the process you should also make sure that you check the 'participants' box if you are using human participants at any point.

It maybe that you have decided to not get ethical approval even though you are using participants in your study. If this is the case you should be aware that in this case you are not legally covered or insured and will technically be liable in the event of anything going wrong.

If anything goes wrong contact the CS Ethics Liaison immediately.

In General, you don't need to know everything but keep in mind:

In summary then, we can see that the following list of key principles should be taken into account in any research resign be it in the field, quasi-experimental, or within the laboratory.

Remember: If you wish you can also use the manual paper versions of the application form; instructions are also available.

Useful Links

  1. Our CS Ethics Cue Card: Use this cue card to guide you through the kind of questions you need to think about when making an application;
  2. Central University Ethics Resource: Look at the University resource for a more general guide;
  3. Make an Ethics Application: Make your application online (this is also printable too);
  4. Ethics Tweets: Any problems or system errors - have a look at our system tweets; and
  5. Ask a Question via the STAFF ONLY Computer Science Q and A System: Ask other staff members; and
  6. Ask a Question via the Computer Science Q and A System: Still unsure? Ask us - and everyone else - a question for clarity.

Example Application from the SCWeb2 Project - Thanks to the Leverhulme Trust (F/00 120/BL)

  1. Application for Ethical Approval. The proposal was submitted for approval to the Central Ethics Committee as we wanted to work with human participants, and further, those over 65 years of age;
  2. We attended the panel in which 10 committee members questioned us for approximately 15 minutes. This was helpful as they were each experts in their field and had different views on the kinds of methods we should employ along with the kinds of analysis that should take place and the most appropriate statistical methods to use;
  3. Panel Decision. A letter giving the panels decision took around a week to reach us - and there where only three minor things that needed to be changed;
  4. We made these changes and submitted them back to the Ethics Committee Secretary (Dr. Stibbs) who approved them without further recourse to the committee;
  5. Ethics Approval. We received the approval letter, again, within about a week; and
  6. Started work about three weeks later - with the final data collection being finished in October 2010.


  1. The American Psychological Association's (APA), 'Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct';
  2. The United States Public Health Service Act (Title 45, Part 46, Appendix B), 'Protection of Human Subjects';
  3. The Belmont Report, 'Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research';
  4. The Council of International Organisations of Medical Sciences, 'International Ethical Guidelines for Epidemiological Studies'; and finally
  5. The World Medical Association's, 'Declaration of Helsinki - Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects'.

Ethical Principles... in a little more detail

Each set of research standards proposes a slightly different set of principles by which ethical research is to be conducted. However, there are a number of commonalities which are covered throughout all of these standards. It is these commonalities that make up the seven specific principles which will be outlined in more detail in this section. These principles are mainly culled from the American Psychological Association's ethical guidelines along with the ethical guidelines proposed by the Beaumont Report. This is mainly because they are repeated, and in some cases expanded upon, in other more recent work, however, the core principles remain the same.

Further Reading

  1. Blackburn, S. Ethics: a very short introduction, vol. 80. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001.
  2. Fisher, C. B. Decoding the ethics code: a practical guide for psychologists. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2003.
  3. Sales, B. D., and Folkman, S. Ethics in research with human participants. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 2000.
  4. Singer, P. Practical ethics, 2nd ed ed. Cambridge University Press, Cam- bridge, 1993.
  5. Various, Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. The American Psychological Association's (APA), 2003.
  6. Various, Declaration of Helsinki - Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects. The World Medical Association, 1964. Also, the 6th Revision, 2008.
Creative Commons LicenceComputer Science Research Ethics - Human Participants by Simon Harper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is based on a work at and is an Open Educational Resource.