Research Ethics

The university is committed to ensuring that the following research ethics objectives are achieved:

  • To ensure that any research activity undertaken by staff or students meets the highest standards and is compliant with the code of practice issued by the UKRIO and the UK Concordat on Research Integrity.
  • To ensure that risks relating to sensitive projects which may have a profound impact on the environment, communities or individuals are proportionately controlled without exposing individuals, or the environment, to unnecessary risk.
  • To ensure that projects involving animals, humans, human material or human data are only permitted when there is no alternative research technique and the expected benefits outweigh any possible adverse effects.

Coventry University requires all research to be submitted for ethical review and clearance as a matter of priority. All staff and students are required to obtain ethical approval before undertaking any research. Approval may also be required for other, non-research, activities involving human participants. Staff are responsible for following the internal process and supervisors of students are responsible for ensuring that their students do the same.

The Group University Research Ethics Committee is responsible for ensuring that any research activity undertaken by staff or students meets the highest ethical standards and is in line with its policy on governance.

These principles and standards apply to all research irrespective of whether it is unfunded, internally funded or externally funded through Research Councils, other public monies, or any other sources.  

Ethical approval is required before undertaking any:

  • Research, design studies, product development, artistic studies or experiments
  • Survey work, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups or case studies.

The university may require ethical approval for:

  • Controversial or non-controversial literary or artistic works.
  • Paid or un-paid internal or external consultancy work.

This is especially true if the activity requires or could involve:

  • Active or unintentional participation by human participants.
  • The use of tissue, cells, genetic material or body fluids from living or dead human participants (this is also covered under the Human Tissue Act 2007).
  • Actual or potential disclosure and storage of personal or confidential information (this is also covered by the Data Protection Act 1998).
  • An ethical, safety, moral or legal dilemma for the researcher and/or participants in allowing the activity to proceed.

The overarching responsibility of the University Group Research Ethics Committee (REC) is to promote a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers in line with the University Research Conduct and Ethics Policy.

The committee has the interlinked functions of:

  • Providing support and advice to researchers and others on matters relating to research integrity
  • Working in conjunction with faculties and university research centres, ensuring that any ethics issues associated with research projects conducted by university staff or students of any level (and whether externally or internally funded) have been appropriately considered, addressed, and approved before the projects begin, and good ethical practice is employed as projects are delivered.

The REC reports to University Research Committee.

Key members

  • Chair – Prof Nigel Berkeley, Associate Dean of Research for Faculty of Business and Law
  • Deputy Chair – Sally Puzey, Director of Research Services
  • Secretary – Sophie Krumins, Research Ethics and Integrity Manager

Useful information

Contact us

For queries about the university's research ethics, please email