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Research Ethics in the School of Education

Trinity College Dublin requires that prior to a research study commencing, ethical review is carried out for all proposed research involving human subjects that is conducted by staff and students.

The School of Education is the site for 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;
  • organisation of cultural and educational visits/exchanges with groups of school-going pupils and teachers, students, academics and visiting scholars
  • 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:
    1. child protection principles;
    2. legal obligations and policy commitments in relation to children and members of vulnerable groups;
    3. 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, and other academic staff members. 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.

*Garda Vetting for Researchers in the School of Education (See below)

The Procedure for Ethical Approval

Students are required to read carefully the guidance notes in the application form.  Sample completed ethics applications and sample information and consent forms are available for download below.

The form must be completed electronically, using as much space as needed to include all required information.

For student applications, the student must liaise with their supervisor in drafting the application to ensure that they are addressing all ethical issues adequately. 

For PME and M.Ed. students, submission and supervisor approval is completed through Blackboard following the instructions provided in the relevant module for each programme. 

For research students (M.Litt, Ph.D.  D. Ed.) and staff, forms are submitted in HARD COPY format only.  The completed form MUST be checked and signed (NO electronic signatures, please) by the supervisor and the student prior to submission. Any unsigned forms will be returned. 

All applications are reviewed by the School of Education’s Research Ethics Committee according to their code of practice.

If an application is unsuccessful, required changes will be outlined for the applicant in a timely manner.  For PME and M.Ed. students, feedback will be provided on the Blackboard rubric through Blackboard and a deadline for resubmission will be provided.  For research students and staff, feedback will be provided by email.  All appeals 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.

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

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

End of project reporting is mandatory for all students, who are required to complete an End of Research Project form (pdf).

Relevant documents, templates and sample documents are available to download:

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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