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Research Ethics in the School of Education

The School of Education is the site of a large number of research projects carried out by staff and students and is aware of the responsibilities and duties that such work involves. The School is committed to the conduct of high-quality research that is guided by the latest understandings of research ethics and their place in all research design. In its research activity, the School is committed to ethical principles that include:

    • a commitment to the well-being, protection and safety of participants;
    • a duty to respect the rights and wishes of participants;
    • an evaluation of the relative benefits of any research to groups and individuals
    • a responsibility to conduct rigorous, academic research;
    • a commitment to disseminate the results of research in an honest and truthful manner to all who may be affected by the research or those who should be informed about the research

There are a number of concepts that all research in the School must address. These include:

  • minimising risk of harm;
  • informed consent and freedom to withdraw;
  • avoidance of disclosure of non-processed data and anonymity
  • data storage, access, retention and destruction
  • awareness and recognition of power relations in asymmetrical educational relationships.
  • Some research in the School is also conducted with children and members of vulnerable groups and in these cases further ethical demands must be met. These include:

    a.) child protection principles;

    b.) legal obligations and policy commitments in relation to children and members of vulnerable groups;

    c.) an inclusive approach to research.

In order to ensure the highest level of ethical research, the School has a University-approved Research Ethics Committee (REC). This is an ad hoc committee that comprises the Director of Research, three other academic staff members and one postgraduate representative. This committee may also call upon the services of a lay member, or expert members in certain cases.

In the case of staff research that requires ethical approval, and where ethical approval has not been granted in another recognised institution or body, all such research must be approved by the School’s REC.
In the case of student research projects at all levels (undergraduate and postgraduate) it is the responsibility of the student to complete a Research Ethics Approval Application form in consultation with their supervisor and, following review by the supervisor, submit to the School’s Research Ethics Committee. In the case of low-risk projects, the supervisor has the authority to sign-off that all ethical requirements are being met in the design and conduct of the project, or she/he may refer the proposal to the REC for its consideration.

*Garda Vetting for Researchers in the School of Education ➤➤Read More [PDF]

The Procedure for Ethical Approval
(Also available for download here [PDF]):

1.) Students are required to read carefully the guidance notes at the start of the application form.

2.) The form must be completed electronically, using as much space as needed to include all required information and submitted in HARD COPY format only.

3.) The completed form MUST be checked and authorised (NO electronic signatures, please) by the supervisor and the student prior to submission. Any unsigned forms will be returned.

4.) The Application for Ethical Approval of Research forms:

D.Ed and PhD Application for Ethical Approval ➤➤PDF | Word Document

M.Ed., M.Litt, M.Phil Application for Ethical Approval ➤➤PDF | Word Document

PME & B.Mus. Ed Application for Ethical Approval ➤➤PDF | Word Document

Staff Application for Ethical Approval ➤➤PDF | Word Document

5.) The summary below describes the action taken for Levels 0, 1 or 2 approvals.

Level 0

Level 1

Level 2

Student and supervisor agree that research is Level 0. Student completes form, which is signed by supervisor.

Student completes form and submits to supervisor.

Student completes form and submits to supervisor.




Supervisor keeps a copy of signed statement (refer to REC if needed) and submits a copy to REC administrator for archiving.

Supervisor checks, signs submits form (or returns to student for submission) to REC administrator.

Supervisor checks, signs and submits form (or returns to student for submission) to REC administrator.



REC – approves or refers application, which is communicated to student by the REC administrator, who files a copy for archive.

REC – approves / refers / involves ‘expert’ from outside School / submits to REPC for consideration. The decision is communicated to student by the REC administrator, who files a copy for archive.

6.) All appeals, etc will be considered by another Level 2 REC in the AHSS Faculty. In exceptional cases, the REPC may convene a Research Ethics Appeals Committee composed of representative members of other College RECs.

7.) Procedures for monitoring ongoing studies require mandatory annual reporting from approved studies.

8.) All modifications which require ethics approval must be submitted to the REC and approved prior to implementation. Annual reporting to REPC is standard procedure.

9.) End of project reporting is mandatory for all students, who are required to complete an End of Research Project form, which can be found here [PDF].

10.) All applications are submitted initially to the REC administrator and retained & archived after approval by the REC Administrator.

11.) Exemplar templates for consent forms are available to download:


Ethics application (PDF) and Appendix (PDF)
Completed sample ethics form with instructive comments (PDF)
Sample Student Information Sheet Consent Form (PDF)
Sample Principal Information Sheet and Consent Form (PDF)
Sample Parent/Guardian Information Sheet Consent Form (PDF)

The School of Education Research Ethics Committee also considers applications for ethical approval for School staff research and will also consider, in individual cases, applications for ethical approval for research projects in other Schools in the Faculty which do not have an Ethics Committee. Questions concerning the ethical conduct of research in the School of Education can be addressed to the Director of Research, School of Education, Trinity College Dublin.

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Last updated 19 June 2017