Business and Law Procedures

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This is the page for the Business and Law Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC). Per the university’s Research Ethics Code of Practice, where research requires ethical approval all BAL staff and students must apply for ethical approval before commencing their research. Primary data collection may not begin until the correct ethics approval procedures have been completed and written authorisation of the proposed study has been obtained. To obtain ethical approval, please ensure that the appropriate procedures are followed (as detailed below).

All applications from staff and PGR students will be reviewed by at least two independent reviewers drawn from members of the faculty, with the review comments moderated by the Faculty Head of Research Ethics or a nominated deputy. Review comments will be passed back to applicants by a member of the BAL Research and Innovation team, but all decisions (whether accept, revise, or reject) are made in the name of the whole Faculty Research Ethics Committee.

The FREC takes a non-consequentialist approach in its work, largely in line with a deontological approach to ethics. In practice, this means that when we are reviewing applications, and particularly high-risk applications, we put most value on treating participants as ends in themselves and following ethical processes. We will not ordinarily approve applications where participants are at risk of harm if the justification for this is based on some wider gain that would not be immediately shared by participants. Similarly, we encourage applicants to think about whether it is possible to compensate participants to reflect the value we put on their input; although we accept that it will not always be feasible to do so.

Ethics Application Procedures

As of October 2022, all staff and students research ethics applications must be submitted using the Worktribe Ethics system. You can access the Worktribe ethics system using your DMU single sign-on details.

Links to university Worktribe ethics training videos and user guides are available through the ‘Help’ tab > Help Topics > 3. Ethics Training for Worktribe on the menu bar within the Worktribe system.

Members of staff are able to author and submit their own ethics applications.

Post Graduate Researchers (PGRs) should initiate the Worktribe ethics form and should complete the form with the support of their supervisor. Once the form has been completed, PGRs must submit the form to their supervisor, who will be responsible for endorsing the application and submitting it to the ethics office for review. If you believe your PhD research does not require formal ethical approval please complete the Research Ethics Screening Questions form and ask your supervisor email it to and

Undergraduate (UG) and Postgraduate taught (PGT) students should complete their Worktribe ethics form identifying the module that the application is connected to and their supervisor on that module. When submitted, UG and PGT applications will go through to their supervisor on the module for endorsement and submission to the module leader. The module leader can then conduct a review and approve low risk projects.


If you have completed a full ethics application and received ethical approval but now wish to make substantive amendments your study, this will need approval. Please return to your authorised form on the Worktribe system and make amendments to it and submit for further authorisation. If you are unsure whether changes you wish to implement make a substantive difference to the ethics of your study, please do get in touch with the Faculty Head of Research Ethics for advice.

Sample Data Collection Templates

When we do any research with human participants, it is essential that our participants understand what the research is about and what their rights are.

The ‘sample/guide’ participant information sheet, refined with the help of our Faculty Research Ethics Committee, is likely to be most appropriate for research which is low risk from the point of view of participants.

The aim of this document is to help to scaffold towards participant information sheets that can be easily navigated and understood in a couple of minutes by the target audience. In the document, notes to consider are in red text, and will all be deleted or modified in some way. There are suggestions for ways that different projects might go to help you think about how to write your own – sometimes in the form of suggested text.

A note is included to inform people about making data available for re-use. This will not always be appropriate (it is a substantive question), but staff and PGRs should routinely be thinking about sharing anonymous data via figshare or equivalent. It would not normally be appropriate for UG/PGT students to do so.

Participant information sheets should always be bespoke, and nothing here mitigates the need for substantive consideration of them, or the opportunity for innovation beyond what is here. Maybe your participants would respond best to a short video? Or images might make it easier to signpost? The key objective is to try to set a baseline for how we inform our participants that is accessible and short.

Module leaders might think about modifying this for their students to give them examples that are specific to the module, and to help students make decisions in a substantive context. Again, this does not remove the need to still consider every one on its merits; but it might give much more consistency and lead to higher quality applications, ultimately saving time.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to research, and so there is also no universally best way to inform participants about your research or to collect and evidence their consent. Please note that these forms must be modified to suit your specific needs, and it is your responsibility to consider situations in which they may be less appropriate than other means of informing participants.

Verbal consent is likely to only be appropriate in specific circumstances, such as brief face-to-face surveys with the public where collecting written documentation is unfeasible and disproportionate. It is also likely to be the only valid way of collecting consent with people who cannot read and understand the written consent form. Please note that each research project is considered on its individual merits and the right approach is the one that best supports your participants.

Additional resources are available through the Research Ethics pages on DMU Connect.

Model statements for researchers working off campus overseas or in the UK

Please see below for a model statement on how to increase researcher safety when working off campus either overseas or in the UK.

These are model statements that can be adapted for use in the methodology section of the Worktribe ethics form. Of course, researcher safety differs depending on the location of the research and the specific facts of the case. While these statements serve as useful prompts to encourage safe working practices, it is a substantive question for researchers how they will ensure the safety of the research team. Each statement will be evaluated by reviewers on its own merits as part of the ethics review.

Guidance on UG/PGT ethics for module and programme leaders

It is sometimes desirable for students to undertake primary research as part of their degree to ensure that they are meeting their module or programme learning outcomes. Often, but not always, this occurs on dissertations. From academic year 2022/23, we are rolling out Worktribe to manage student ethics applications for all programmes. This is the only system through which we will consider and approve ethics applications in the faculty – the old paper forms should no longer be used.

Because research comes in many different forms in our faculty, it is strongly recommended that all UG and PGT students first complete the BAL Ethics Screening Questions to determine whether they need to complete a full application on Worktribe. This form will assess whether the applicant will need to go on to complete a full ethics application form. If a full ethics application is not required, the supervisor/module leader can sign off the screening form. Completed forms can be submitted to the relevant repository for the module on Blackboard for record keeping purposes. If the screening form indicates that a student needs to complete a full application, this must be done via Worktribe using the process below.

For each module where students undertake research, one person from the module team will be set up as a module ethics officer on Worktribe. This can be the module lead but can also be a nominated person who teaches on the module. The process will run as follows: a student will create an application, and work with their supervisor to fill out the ethics form on Worktribe. This form will be checked by supervisors and submitted to the module ethics officer. The module ethics officer will then review the application and confirm that it is of an appropriate risk rating and is filled out appropriately. If the application is low risk and completed appropriately, the module ethics officer can then approve. If the student’s supervisor is also the module leader, we would like an additional person to check over the application as a sense check and to make sure that there is agreement that the proposal is ethically low risk. This review can be easily organised through Worktribe and can be conducted by another member of the module delivery team or a different member of staff in the faculty (including the module’s internal moderator).

The research that UG and PGT students are conducting should ordinarily be ethically low risk and as module leaders/ethics officers you are responsible for helping students assess the risk of their research and ensuring that they are conducting research which is appropriate. The code of practice states ‘In exceptional circumstances, medium risk research can be approved after consultation with the relevant FREC. UG/PGT students should not undertake high risk research.’ The Research Ethics Code of Practice, defines medium- and high-risk ratings, with low risk being understood as that which is not medium or high risk. In BAL, if you have a student who would like to conduct research that is medium risk, this needs to be escalated to the FREC to consider – module teams cannot approve medium risk research. You can reassign to the general BAL Ethics Officer Group within Worktribe. However, because this is medium risk research, it will be considered by the FREC in the same way as any normal staff or PhD student application – with the same turnaround times. At busy times it can take up to 6 weeks to get a review completed and returned, and there is no guarantee that an application will be approved. As such, module leaders and supervisors should consider whether it is necessary for a student to conduct medium risk research in order to meet their learning outcomes and provide help and support to their students in designing their research.

Student Ethics for Education 2030 modules

For Education 2030 modules that require students to conduct research we expect all non-dissertation modules to use block ethics approval. This is a system that allows module leaders to define the research projects that students will be conducting, ensure that these projects are at a suitable risk level, and complete a single application for the entire module for a period of up to 3 years. Students need to be informed about the ethics of the research project and what are and are not permitted to do under the authorisation granted. Under the block ethics system students do not have to complete an ethics application themselves. As such this approach saves a significant amount of time while still allowing you to ensure that the students meet their module learning outcomes.

To apply, the module leader will need to complete the Block Ethics Approval form that can be found at: Student Research Ethics Requirements ( This form, along with an application detailing the projects that will take place under the application, should be submitted by the module leader via WorkTribe. Please note that applications for Block Approval must be reviewed by members of the Faculty Research Ethics Committee and so in practice review and approval can be slower than normal.

While this is the default expectation for Education 2030 modules, if you wish to consider Block Approval for a non-Education 2030 module, please do get in touch; it is a useful system for supporting our students. Similarly, if you believe that there are professional standards reasons why you cannot use Block Approval on an Education 2030 module, please also get in touch. 

Ethics training for staff

As part of the training offered to staff, training on research ethics can be accessed to support your research. This training can be accessed via blackboard, where you can go to ‘My Communities’ > ‘Mandatory & Online Training for Staff’ > ‘Research Ethics’ (which is a folder on the left-hand side). You can also find modules on research integrity in a folder in the same panel on the left. This is a very comprehensive suite of training and is recommended for all staff who conduct research with human participants, or who review proposals from those who do. PhD students also have access to this training.

Being compliant with the Data Protection regulations when undertaking research

When conducting research, it is possible that you will be collecting personal data as defined by the UK’s implementation of the GDPR. Further information on the meaning of personal data in this context can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website. If you are processing personal data, you are highly likely to require a completed Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). Guidance on completing a DPIA can be found on DMU Connect.

Read the DPIA template and guidance.

Read DMU's policies and external requirements.

Please note that while ethical approval is granted on the understanding that you will follow all legal obligations, including those relating to data protection, we do not assess this as part of the ethics process and in some situations it may be helpful for researchers to gain ethical approval before completing a DPIA (notwithstanding that if a DPIA is required this must be completed before data collection can begin).


Faculty Research Ethics Committee

Faculty of Business and Law

Dr Jonathan Rose

Faculty Head of Research Ethics 

Chair of Business and Law Faculty Research Ethics Committee