Research involves information gathering. Research Ethics concerns the means (i.e. methods) used for data collection, analysis, reporting and publication. When the information to be gathered is not in the public domain, or where its collection involves using human participants, human tissue, or animals, then it is highly likely that some form of ethical review and approval of the research would be required. Informed consent should be at the heart of any ethical research involving human participants and maintaining the dignity, rights, safety, and well-being of participants in the research should be the primary consideration of any research study. Good ethical conduct lies, in the first instance, with researchers themselves. Ethical research is therefore a matter of being risk aware, and not risk averse.
There are three main types of ethical approval routes depending on the type of research being undertaken: College Ethics Committees, NHS/HRA approval for work involving the NHS and the Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB) for research involving animals.