Research Ethics

Dublin City University endeavours to ensure that all research carried out by DCU researchers is ethically sound and adheres to the highest standards of research integrity. All research projects must be conducted in accordance with the law, and also according to acceptable ethical standards. Maintaining well-established ethical standards is an important aspect of upholding the integrity of the research process. Ethically questionable research can reflect negatively on the reputation and liability of both researchers and the University. Research may place burdens on participants or put them at increased risk of harm which could be avoided or reduced. Such burdens or harm can be physical, psychological, social or financial.

The following sections outline the role of the DCU Research Ethics Committee in this process, and provide guidelines on the levels of review conducted. Researchers should take a look at our research resources to inform the ethical assessment of their project, prior to commencing the ethics application process.

Information and Guidance

Ethics Resources & Guidelines

Applying for Ethical Approval

Research projects that cannot be reviewed locally (see above) must apply for ethical approval via the DCU REC. Applicants submit the REC application form and associated documentation to REC via the Research Ethics Application Portal on Loop. Please follow the submission guidelines on the form. If there are any issues experienced when submitting application forms via the portal, researchers should email Please refer to the current Calendar of REC Meetings 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 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 in a previous section - 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 DCU REC application form used for all levels of ethics review for research projects involving human participants.

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

For research with animal subjects, all HPRA applicants must contact the Bio-Resource Advisory Group (BRAG) in the first instance, as there is an internal review meeting to be undertaken with them before any application involving animal subjects can be submitted to the REC. All details and forms available from the BRAG Chair  -

DCU REC Submission & Approval Timeline


If required, researchers can avail of the Research Ethics Support Clinics with the REC Chair (contact 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.


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.


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.


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 for review and approval. The REC amendment form is available via the REC Forms - Applications, Templates and Amendments section of the Research Ethics Application Portal. Completed forms must be submitted via the Submit REC Amendment Form section of the portal and can be 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