Research Support

Ethics Approval

Applying for Ethical Approval

1. All Undergraduate and Taught Masters research projects are reviewed at local School level. Students should liaise with their supervisors regarding this process. Please refer to the following documents:

2. For all other research projects that require ethical approval, you must submit the application form and associated documentation (see section below) to REC via the Research Ethics Application Portal on Loop. If there are any issues submitting application forms via the portal, researchers should email rec@dcu.ie. Please refer to the Calendar of REC Meetings 2021 below for details on submission deadlines

  • The level of ethical review required will be dependent on a combination of risk assessment, the specific population to be researched, and the research methods to be used. The researcher, supervisor and research team (as applicable) should carry out an ethical assessment of their project to determine the appropriate level. Advice on this can be sought in advance of submission via rec@dcu.ie. You will be required to provide a brief justification for the final decision reached within your REC application, and this will be evaluated as part of the review. Guidelines on level of review are provided on the main Research Ethics page - examples are provided in each category, but these are not an exhaustive list of the projects falling into each category.
  • Ensure that the application is fully completed with all supplementary materials included (recruitment materials, participant information sheet, informed consent, permission letters, etc. Incomplete applications will be not be reviewed, but will be returned for completion, which will delay their review. Avoid using technical jargon and insider terminology, as REC members come from various academic and non-academic backgrounds. 
  • Ensure that the entire application, but especially the materials intended for distribution to participants, are free of spelling and grammar errors, and proofread for readability, clarity and accuracy. 

REC Forms - Applications, Templates and Amendments

Please note that there is one application form for all levels of ethics review. Previous level-specific forms (e.g. notification form) are no longer in operation.

If your research involves biological agents or materials (e.g. biological or clinical samples, viruses, bacterial strains, mammalian cells, animal models, biotoxins, prions, GMOs/micro organisms etc.) it will require approval from the Biological Safety Committee, this approval should be in place prior to REC submission. Please refer to the BSC submission forms and associated documentation on the Faculty webpage

All HPRA applicants must contact BRAG in the first instance, as there is an internal review meeting to be undertaken with them before any application can be submitted to the REC. Further details available from the BRAG Chair  - brag@dcu.ie


DCU REC Submission & Approval Timeline

Preparation

If required, researchers can avail of the Research Ethics Support Clinics with the REC Chair (contact rec@dcu.ie for details) to discuss the specific ethical context of their research and receive guidance where appropriate. The researcher should review the REC meeting calendar and identify the meeting date and corresponding submission deadline that they wish to apply for. Best practice is to build in a sufficient time period between the meeting date and the anticipated start date for data collection, in order to facilitate any post review actions that are required prior to approval being granted.

The researcher then identifies the level of review required (notification, expedited, full committee), writes the application form and all other associated documentation. The REC application form, Plain Language Statement and Informed Consent Form templates can be found here. Applicants should ensure that they are using the most current version of the REC application form, when putting together their application.

Submission

The researcher submits their REC application form and associated documentation via the Research Ethics Application Portal on Loop.  The applicant receives automatic confirmation via email that their application has been submitted.

Triage

Applications are triaged to ensure that the current version of the REC application form has been used, that the form is complete and accurate, and that the level of review required is appropriate. Application forms are disseminated to REC members in advance of the REC meeting.

Review

The REC reviews applications during the REC meeting. The outcome of the review is usually provided to researchers within 5 working days of the REC meeting. Applicants should therefore refrain from enquiring about their application status until after this five-day period has elapsed.

REC Outcome/Decision

Following review, the REC may approve the application, require further clarification(s) or require resubmission (decline). If further clarification(s) are required, these are sent to the researcher via email. In order to facilitate all reviews within the review cycle of the meeting, applicants are required to respond to REC within 7 working days. If applicants exceed this deadline, review of these responses by REC may be pushed to the next review cycle (after the subsequent REC meeting). The REC will only issue formal approval once all REC comments have been clarified by the applicant.

Amending Approved Research

After receiving initial REC approval, if you need to make any changes to your approved research project these must be submitted to DCU REC (rec@dcu.ie) via an amendment form (for review and approval). Amendments can be submitted at any time and are reviewed outside of the scheduled REC meeting dates.


Minutes of REC Meetings

To access the minutes of the Research Ethics Committee Meetings, please click here