Ethics guidelines and documents

School of Computer Science & Statistics Research Ethics Application


The following documents are required with each application:
  • SCSS Ethical Application Form
  • Participants Information Sheet must include the following:
    1. Declarations from Part A of the application form;

    2. Details provided to participants about how they were selected to participate;
    3. Declaration of all conflicts of interest.
  • Participants Consent Form must include the following:
    1. Declarations from Part A of the application form;

    2. Researchers contact details provided for counter-signature (your participant will keep one copy of the signed consent form and return a copy to you).

  • Research Project Proposal must include the following:
    1. You must inform the Ethics Committee who your intended participants are i.e. are they your work colleagues, class mates etc.

    2. How will you recruit the participants i.e. how do you intend asking people to take part in your research? For example, will you stand on Pearse Street asking passers-by?

    3. If your participants are under the age of 18, you must seek both parental/guardian AND child consent.

  • Intended questionnaire/survey/interview protocol/screen shots/representative materials (as appropriate)
  • URL to intended on-line survey (as appropriate)

Notes on Conflict of Interest

  1. If your intended participants are work colleagues, you must declare a potential conflict of interest: you are taking advantage of your existing relationships in order to make progress in your research. It is best to acknowledge this in your invitation to participants.

  1. If your research is also intended to direct commercial or other exploitation, this must be declared. For example, Please be advised that this research is being conducted by an employee of the company that supplies the product or service which form an object of study within the research.”

Notes for questionnaires and interviews

  1. If your questionnaire is paper based, you must have the following opt-out clause on the top of each page of the questionnaire: “Each question is optional. Feel free to omit a response to any question; however the researcher would be grateful if all questions are responded to.”
  1. If your questionnaire is on-line, the first page of your questionnaire must repeat the content of the information sheet. This must be followed by the consent form. If the participant does not agree to the consent, they must automatically be exited from the questionnaire.

  2. Each question must be optional.

  3. The participant must have the option to not submit, exit without submitting’ at the finasubmission point on your questionnaire.

  4. If you have open-ended questions on your questionnaire you must warn the participant against naming third parties: Please do not name third parties in any open text field of the questionnaire. Any such replies will be anonymised.”

  5. You must inform your participants regarding illicit activity: In the extremely unlikely event that illicit activity is reported I will be obliged to report it to appropriate authorities.”

Ethics Application Guidelines – August 2014



Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science School of Computer Science and Statistics RESEARCH ETHICS PROTOCOL

When is Ethical Approval Needed?

Ethical approval is required before any studies involving human participants can commence. This requirement applies to studies to be undertaken by staff, postgraduate and  undergraduate students. In the case of collaborative projects involving researchers from outside the School,ethical approval obtained from an external research ethics body may suffice– evidence of same must be submitted to the SCSS Research Ethics Committee prior to the commencement of the study (see procedures below). In the absence of such external approval, approval must be obtained as per this document. Additional ethical approval may be required if the project involves or is funded by an external body, for example, studies under FP7 automatically require such approval.

For the purpose of this document a “study” may be understood to involve a potentially staged series of different experiments to be conducted over a period of time. If substantive changes are made to a study following receipt of ethical approval, this will constitute a new study for which further ethical approval must be obtained.


Completed application forms together with supporting documentation should be submitted electronically to To submit, if the proposal is from an undergraduate or postgraduate students, the completed application package must be presented to the academic supervisor who will sign after verifying completeness. These signed originals may be scanned and emailed. Please use TCD e-mail addresses only. When your application has been reviewed and approved by the Ethics committee hardcopies of the application form with original signatures should bsubmitted to the School of Computer Science & Statistics, Room F37, O’Reilly Institute, Trinity College, Dublin 2.

The Committee will consider each application and normally provide a response within  two weeks but not more than one month later. Applications that are considered not to have significant ethical implications may be evaluated by the Committee Chair without reference to the full Committee. Applications will otherwise be considered at a meeting of the SCSS Research Ethics Committee. When approval has been obtained from an external research ethics committee, and School approval is not required, a copy of the external ethical approval must be submitted to the School’s  Research Unit, prior to commencement of study, for noting by the SCSS Research Ethics Committee.

Please note that in signing the approval form one is making a commitment to review the provisions of the Data Protection Act, like legislation and College Policy on Good Research Practice. Please ensure that your study conforms to the standards of anonymity preservation and data retention set in those documents. Those provisions suggest a default proscription against making digital or photographic recordings of participants. A study which requires such records must include in the research ethics approval application a justification and documentation of the methods by which the  statutory provisions and research practice guidelines will be met.

Note: These procedures may be amended from time-to-time following recommendation by the SCSS Research Ethics Committee and with the approval of the SCSS Research Committee.

Before seeking ethical approval researchers should:
  • identify actual and potential ethical issues that might arise;

  • reflect on how these will be addressed; and

  • formulate procedures to deal with all such issues.

During the research project researchers should:
  • implement the ethical procedures;

  • obtain continuous feedback from participants about ethical issues;

  • periodically review the ethical strategy in the light of feedback received; and

  • if required, update their ethical procedures;

  • retain copies of consent forms signed by the participants.

Composition of the SCSS Research Ethics Committee

The Committee will consist of a Chairperson/Convenor appointed by the Director of Research and two other experts–a member of the School’s academic staff and external advisors. The internal and external members will be selected from a panel approved by the Director of Research from time to time. Members will be selected on a case by case basis by the Chairperson subject to their availability. Researchers will be precluded from the Committee considering ethical approval for their study.