University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Procedures for Ethics-Approval of Research and Teaching

Scope of Ethical Issues Handled by the Department

The Department has to consider three aspects of research work which give rise to ethical issues:

  1. The Biomedical Physics Group conducts research or project studies which involve healthy volunteers and, in conjunction with hospitals, volunteer patients. These volunteers may be adults, minors or infants.
  2. Any research group within the Department may be involved in external contract work or sponsorship at some time.
  3. It may be necessary to ask more searching questions concerning the ethics of asking research workers to use hazardous substances.

In the past research proposals for the first category have been submitted to the Ethics Committee of the Local Health Authority prior to submission to a grant awarding body. This procedure has protected the rights of the subjects volunteering to take part in research projects. However, to take account of any future change in the nature of research, which may involve subjects totally outside Health Authority responsibility, protection of subjects' rights comparable to that provided under the Health Authority Committee must be considered. This will apply to both funded and unfunded projects.

Outline Procedures for Handling Ethical Issues

The College has designated an officer responsible for the management of ethical issues within the Department. The responsibilities of the Ethics Officer will be those laid down in the University Ethics Policy.

A Department Ethics Committee advises on ethical issues within the Department and assesses for approval research proposals involving the issues outlined above.

The procedures for dealing with the ethical issues above are as follows.

  1. Research or project proposals for work which involves volunteer subjects, whether hospital based or non-clinical, will be submitted to the Department Ethics Committee through the designated officer. The officer will then decide whether the proposal should go before the Department Ethics Committee for consideration of be presented to the appropriate hospital or trust committee. In the latter case the Ethics Officer will liaise with the applicant and the Chairman of the local Hospital or Trust Committee to ensure that the applicant is aware of the requirements of that Committee.
  2. In the case of proposals involving external contract or sponsorship the applicant will be provided with a checklist. The applicant must indicate that they are satisfied that the academic freedom and publication rights are not compromised in any agreement. This will be filed in the Department Office along with a copy of the application or contract. The Head of Discipline will establish that the best interests of the University and Department have been met before giving approval to any contract.
  3. In most cases, ethical issues arising from the use of hazardous substances will be satisfied by ensuring that the relevant regulations of COSHH have been adhered to and sufficient information on the risks involved is contained in the written information given to the research worker concerned.

Department Ethics Committee

Details of membership and remit are given elsewhere. The procedures are as follows:

Declaration of Interest

Any member of the Ethics Committee who has an interest which may affect consideration of a particular research proposal will be asked to declare that interest and, if necessary, will temporarily with draw from the Committee.


University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)