Research Ethics in SCSS

The SCSS Research Ethics Committee (REC) was established in 2009 as a subcommittee of the School Research Committee to review and advise on any ethical issues that may arise during the course of a research project or study. The SCSS REC consists of a REC Chair and six members of academic staff from the School.

What is research ethics and why is it required?

Any research project that involves human participation conducted through a research project or study, including questionnaires, surveys or system user-evaluations, must have independent review by a Research Ethics Committee. Approval must be obtained prior to the commencement of data collection and cannot be applied for or granted retrospectively. This requirement applies to studies to be undertaken by staff, postgraduates and undergraduates.

All members of staff and students undertaking research should do so with cognisance of the Trinity College Guidelines for Good Research Practice  no matter what their research project entails.

All applications must be reviewed and signed by the research Supervisor or Principal Investigator on the project.  This signature confirms an assertion that the application is complete in terms of its formal requirements; it does not stand as proxy for ethical approval. Forms which are not signed or not presented at an acceptable standard (eg: incomplete or containing excessive typographical or grammatical errors) will be returned and may therefore incur delays for the researchers involved.

It takes time to prepare an application for research ethics approval, to have the application considered, and to respond to feedback on the application where issues are raised. You should plan in your work for the time it takes to obtain research ethics approval.  Furthermore, retrospective approval will not be granted.

Individual applications are considered on their own merits.  A basic principle is that prospective participants should be fully informed about the research and its implications for them as participants, with time to reflect on the possibility for both risk and benefit derived from participation, prior to being asked to sign an informed consent form.  Informing prospective participants fully includes declaring potential conflicts of interest that the researcher may have in conducting the research, detailing how participants may withdraw data associated with their participation from further analysis within the study, explaining the preservation of their anonymity within the study, warning them about potential consequences of discovery during the study of issues that would necessarily have precedence over assurances of anonymity, and so on.

Health Research

Additional requirements apply to health research applications. Please see the TCD Guidelines for Consent in Health Research

Please ensure that your application is complete and all documents are submitted – any omissions will result in a returned application and a delay to receiving approval.


Queries regarding research ethics in SCSS can be directed to