Ethics And Research Integrity

The University expects that staff, students and other individuals permitted to work in the University will, at all times, observe the highest standards of integrity in relation to any research work which is supported by the University and/or conducted on its premises. This is a core element of our research strategy and is an integral part of our related policies and regulatory structures. We have been a signatory to the Concordat to Support Research Integrity since 2012 and thus are fully committed to:

  1. Upholding the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research
  2. ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards
  3. supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers
  4. using transparent, timely, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise
  5. working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to review progress regularly and openly.

Professor Wendy Wills the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), has been designated by the Vice-Chancellor as the senior officer responsible for ensuring good research conduct in accordance with University policy and regulations. The senior member of staff with oversight for research integrity and the first point of contact on research integrity matters is Dr Susan Grey. Dr Grey is also the point of contact for whistleblowing.

UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO)

The University is a full member of the UK Research Integrity Office, which provides expert advice and guidance about the conduct of research. UKRIO is the only dedicated research integrity body in the UK and covers all disciplines.

Trusted Research

Trusted Research enables researchers, UK universities and industry to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions regarding potential risks. Trusted Research is particularly relevant in STEM, innovation, dual-use technologies, emerging technologies and commercially sensitive research areas.

The National Protective Security Authority (NPSA) has created Trusted Research Guidance for Academia to help UK academics and research organisations understand and manage the potential risks to international research collaboration.

Ethics Approval

The University has approval processes for:

  • Studies involving Human Participants
  • Potentially problematic ethical issues relating to Research

The University's Ethics Committee for Studies Involving Human Participants formulates institutional policies, regulations, and procedures to ensure the proper conduct of studies involving human participants. Ethics Committees with Delegated Authority function as sub-committees. Ethics approval for a research project is granted by the relevant Ethics Committee following careful assessment of the protocol. For further information please contact Claire Kruger, Governance Services Officer and Clerk to the Ethics Committee.

Advice and approval should be sought at an early stage for any potentially problematic ethical issues that might arise in a research project.

NHS Research Sponsorship

The sponsor of a research project is the organisation that assumes responsibility for confirming there are proper arrangements to initiate, manage and monitor, and finance the research study. Any research that falls within the domain of the Secretary of State for health will require research sponsorship and ethics approval from a Health Research Authority (NHS) Research Ethics Committee. This means:

  • all research taking place within the NHS or Social Services (with patients, patient data, staff or premises in England)
  • all clinical trials involving a medicine or a medical device
  • research involving the Human Tissue Act or the Mental Capacity Act

The University of Hertfordshire has been approved by the Department of Health as a 'recognised sponsor' of research. Where a project or trial is led by a member of University staff or doctoral student and is in the UK, the University will consider acting as formal Sponsor in accordance with our internal approval process.

Clinical Trials Support Network

Based in the Centre for Health Services and Clinical Research, the Clinical Trials Support Network (CTSN) provides advice and assistance to University of Hertfordshire staff and students as well as NHS clinicians and researchers in all aspects of the management and conduct of clinical trials. The CTSN offers a range of services to support the delivery of high-quality clinical research.  The overriding principle is to enable trials to be conducted according to current safety and quality regulations as stipulated by EU and UK directives.

University Policies and Regulations

Listed below are the key University Policies and Regulations (UPRs) in relation to research ethics:

University of Hertfordshire research ethics and good practice guidance: Guide to Good Practice in Research

The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings

The University subscribes to this global ethics code which aims to stop the export of unethical research practices to low and middle income countries. The video here gives more information on the code and its development.

Research Funding – tobacco companies

In accordance with our commitment to the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, advice from UUK and to comply with the requirements of Cancer Research UK, the University’s position is that no member of staff should seek or receive research funding from tobacco companies.

Research Funding – Russia​​​​​​​

As a result of the war in Ukraine, the University’s position is that no member of staff should seek research funding from any Russian organisation or submit an application with Russian collaborators or partners to any external research sponsor. The majority of major funders including UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the European Commission (Horizon Europe) have already announced that they have suspended all payments to live grants involving Russian academics.