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Joint Research Management Office

Applications and approval routes

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Ethical applications must be submitted before the commencement of the study. If research is undertaken without appropriate ethical approval it puts all parties at risk - not only the research participants, but the researchers themselves, Queen Mary staff, and Queen Mary’s institutional reputation - and can lead to disciplinary or research misconduct investigation.

How to apply

  1. Complete the QMERC Research Ethics Application Form [DOC 122KB]. Question-specific guidance is embedded within the form itself.  
  2. Write your participant documentation based on the QMERC Participant Information Sheet [DOC 59KB] and QMERC Consent Form template [DOC 49KB]. For Disability & Dyslexia approved versions of our application form and template documents 
  3. Send a signed copy of the application form (e-signatures acceptable) and any relevant supporting documentation to the Queen Mary Research Ethics team at research-ethics@qmul.ac.uk
  4. On receipt of your application form, an assessment will be made about the risk and the nature of your study and you will be informed of the approval route (if this differs from the approval route selected in the application form, justification for this will be provided). If the study is deemed moderate risk it will be allocated to the next available Panel Review meeting (there are deadlines for these Panel meetings). If low risk, the application will be reviewed by the Research Ethics team without the need for a Panel Review meeting (these can be submitted any time and will be processed and reviewed on receipt). If high risk, or security-sensitive, the application will be reviewed at a meeting of the Main Committee of the QMERC (which meets once a semester).  For more information about these distinctions see below.
  5. When the appropriate approval route has been confirmed your application will be checked for completeness, any queries clarified through direct communication with the lead applicant, and suggestions made to improve your application before ethics review.

NOTE: All our forms and template documents have been converted into a format and style that has been vetted and approved by the Queen Mary Disability & Dyslexia Service (DDS) and the Institute of Dentistry. Please find those versions here:

QMERC Panel Review

For the majority of studies, that represent no more than a moderate risk to the researcher and/or participant, the study will be reviewed by a panel meeting of the QMERC. Examples of studies that may require Panel review can be found on the Economic and Social Research Council website. Most studies that do not fall into one of these examples are assumed to be low risk. 

Note about UG/PGT student studies:

In general, undergraduate and taught postgraduate students should undertake projects with low levels of risk. We expect it will be unusual for UGT and PGT projects to require review by the Queen Mary’s Ethics of Research Committee and Review Panels. Where a UGT or PGT student research project is classified as high-risk following triage by the Research Ethics Team, the student and supervisor may be advised to consider modifying the project scope and design or to provide a robust justification of why the approach is justified.

Panel Committee meetings are held approximately every three weeks; with the application deadline falling three weeks before the meeting date. To facilitate the review of your application, and to allow the Committee to understand your study better, the lead applicant/supervisor of the research will be invited to attend the meeting (in person or by video link or phone call) and if in attendance, will receive verbal feedback on the day, with a formal written response sent shortly after (within a maximum of two weeks).

Dates of Queen Mary Ethics of Research Committee meetings.

Low-Risk Research

Research that is classified as ‘low risk’ (after being assessed as such by a completed application form) may be approved via an expedited approval route. Such research typically concerns non-vulnerable adults as participants, with non-contentious subject matters being the focus of the research.

If you think your study is eligible for the low-risk approval route, you should complete the application form and select the low-risk approval route option. This will be considered by the Research Ethics team and confirmed. Please note that for low-risk research, the lead applicant is not invited to attend a meeting.

High-Risk Research for Review by the Main Committee of QMERC

There will be some studies that represent an unusually high level of risk to researchers, participants, or the University, which will require review from the Main Committee of QMERC. This is a meeting of the entire QMERC membership and takes place once a semester. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss policy and procedural matters and the more complex applications that qualify for Main REC review, either by their nature or as a referral from a Review Panel.

Generic approval and devolved School REC (DSREC) review process

Staff, Supervisors and Module Leaders can apply for generic review and approval for a group of cognate research projects which are sufficiently similar and low-risk.

The generic approval is a two-stage review; the first at central QMERC-level and the second, an independent panel of ethical reviewers at School, Department or module level, ensuring the study is low-risk, eligible to sit under the scope of the generic approval and identifies and mitigates any ethical issues.

In order to apply for QMERC generic approval, the standard application form should be submitted to research-ethics@qmul.ac.uk along with examples of supporting documents that researchers applying to DSREC will be expected to use. Documents could include the relevant application form (contact Facilitators for an example application form), Participant Information Sheet template, Consent Form template, and/or an appendix detailing the procedures to be used. Please request question-specific guidance for completing a generic application.

The application for generic approval will be initially screened by Facilitators and submitted to the next available Review Panel or a specially-arranged Chairs Panel.

For specific guidance on completing a QMERC research ethics application for generic approval, or if you are unsure whether this review route is appropriate for your group of studies, or to request templates such as Terms of Reference for Devolved School RECs, please contact Katherine Ouseley: k.ouseley@qmul.ac.uk 

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