The main responsibilities of the Research Ethics Committee are:
All research in the AOU that involves human subjects require ethical clearance before it commences. Ethical approval will be granted by the Research Ethics Committee (REC).
It applies to all those undertaking research in the University, or on its behalf, including members of staff, students, visiting staff, associates, and consultants.
The Branch REC will be reviewing all proposals and may decide to bring a proposal up to the University REC when, in its view, there are some complicated ethical issues in the proposal, and, hence, a second opinion is sought to be helpful.
The Primary Investigator (PI) must complete the Application for Ethical Clearance and attach all required information. The application describes all the necessary information required that will enable the Research Ethics Committee to conduct the review.
If the PI believes that the proposal requires no ethical clearance, still the Application is to be filled.
Exemption from ethical approval will only apply to anonymous surveys for improving teaching and learning which are exclusively for the University’s internal usage.
If the research received ethical clearance from a third party (e.g. funding agency), the clearance received must be submitted to the appropriate REC, together with the research proposal and a copy of any application made to the third party for ethical clearance. The REC will decide whether it accepts the clearance or whether further review will be required.
If the information for ethical clearance presented by the PI is sought not enough, or if further clarification is required, the researchers will be informed, and asked to complete the necessary information.
The Branch REC may refer back the proposal to the researchers twice, if not meeting the minimum requirements. If after the second referral still the Committee is not convinced that the proposal has met the minimal ethical requirements, it may decide to reject the proposal. The researchers have the right to appeal to the University REC.
After reviewing the appeal, the University REC may decide to provide the ethical approval or refer back the proposal to the researchers to provide extra information. If after the referral still the University is not convinced that the proposal meets the minimum ethical requirement, a rejection may be issues, and the researchers will be advised to submit a new application to their Branch REC after three months.
Projects that come directly under the University REC will undergo the same review procedure as with the Branch REC. Appeals to decisions made by the University REC will be directed to the University Rector, who may decide to form a special committee to review the appeal.
When referring back any proposal for further clarification, the REC will point our clearly on which ethical requirement it considers the proposal is deficient, and what are the necessary steps/requirements to remove the deficiency.
Unless initially viewing the project as of more than low risk, the Branch Committee may assign the student supervisor and/or a member of the Committee or another staff to sign-off the ethical approval for student projects.
Similarly, other research proposals screened as of low risk, by more than one member of the Committee other than the Convener, may be signed-off by the Convener of the Committee.