Ethical Consent Procedures
Ethical approval is required for experiments involving human participants at Swansea University. At the Department of Computer Science, this is dealt with by its Ethics and Risk Assessment Committee, the chair of which is Prof Matt Jones.
This page contains information to support preparation of an application for ethical approval, including example documents and a description of procedures to follow.
If you have any questions, please contact one of the following members of the committee:
Requirements for an application within the Department of Computer Science
Your application should have these components:
- A memo asking for approval to undertake the research. Here is an example in Word and PDF format. You will need to send something like this with your application. It explains the purpose of the experiment and gives a brief overview.
- Your research participant's Bill of Rights. Here is an example in Word and PDF format, and a link back to the original at The University of Calgary. The first thing that participants in your experiment should do is read this form. It is important that you emphasise that the participants can stop the experiment at any time for any reason without any explanation.
- Your Research Consent form. Here is an example in Word and PDF format. After they have read the Bill of Rights, your participants should read this form and sign two copies to show that they know what they are getting into. The participant keeps one copy, you keep the other.
- A description of the experiment. This is a detailed description of the experiment. It should cover the procedure, include a copy of all materials given to participants and describe any verbal instructions that they are to be given.
Please ensure that all paperwork is securely held together or in a folder, and submit it to Prof Matt Jones at the Computer Science Office (3rd Floor). Applications should only be in printed form: electronic submissions are not acceptable. (If electronic resources are to be used, such as an on-line questionnaire, please provide printed copies as well as the location of the on-line material.)
Getting a response
If possible, the Committee will respond to applications within 7 working days. This turnaround time should not be taken for granted, and a reasonable amount of time should be left between submission of the application and the planned start of the study. Please be aware that the Committee may request further information, or require changes to be made to the experimental procedures and materials before approval can be given. You will receive a written response to your application, giving approval or detailing further steps that are required before the application is resubmitted.
Scope of feedback
The Committee is not intended to provide feedback on the quality of the research and experimental methodology that is described in applications. Any response will focus on the ethical considerations involved in the application.
Pilot studies require ethical approval before they can be carried out. The Committee considers a pilot study to be an investigation into the efficacy of the experimental design, where individuals who have not been involved in designing the experiment are subjected to the experimental procedures and conditions.
Re-application for approval
If the experimental procedures or materials change at any time after approval has been given, experimentation must stop and a further application must be submitted, describing the changes. The Committee expects and requires that approved applications held on file are an accurate description of the experimentation that took place.
Applications that only generally describe one or more experiments in a series, or integrate multiple experiments such that the procedures and materials for each experiment are not individually distinguishable, will not be approved. 'Blanket' approval for a number of loosely-defined experiments on a topic will not be given.
We have based documents and the process on those used by the University of Waikato SCMS, available at their ethical consent pages.