Research Integrity & Ethics

We are committed to undertaking academic research that has an impact on the real world around us.

Our Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Simon Green, provides the strategic direction and leadership for all our research. Supported by the Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research Integrity, Professor James Wolffsohn, and Aston University Research Integrity Office (AURIO), as well as our research and ethics committees.

On this page:

 

Aston's Research Strategy

The strategy sets out our ambitious plans to grow and develop our research base. Aston has developed a strong reputation for working closely with industry, the professions, and other stakeholders and for the strong focus on providing solutions to real problems of industry, and addressing societal challenges with high impact research. Since our creation in 1895, we have been an integral part of our region and its employers, advancing knowledge in a relevant and meaningful manner. To find out more please see our research strategy.

Research Integrity

We are committed to the highest standards of research Integrity. Aston University has signed up to the concordat to support research integrity, and committed to comply and integrate its core elements: honesty, rigour, transparency and open communication, and care and respect in all aspects of research.  

We have developed policies to underpin and support the commitments outlined in the concordat; the Research Integrity Policy, a Code of Practice for Dealing with Allegations of Research Misconduct (Research Integrity Assurance Procedures), and Speak up policy.

The codes and the concordat apply to all fields of research and recognise the different responsibilities of researchers, the University as their employer, and other bodies involved in the research process in each of its commitments.

As part of our commitment, we publish an annual Research Integrity statement:

To raise a concern confidentially, you can do so by completing an online form at the bottom of this page.

AURIO is the central point of contact for all enquiries about Research Ethics, Research Governance, and Research Integrity at Aston University.AURIO provides support to members of the University conducting research with human participants, for those who may need external approval, including sponsorship for research requiring NHS ethics and/or HRA approvals, and for those with studies that require ethical review by the University Research Ethics Committee.

AURIO provides advice, resources and training to ensure that research is carried out to the highest ethical standards and in line with current regulations and guidelines.

For anyone seeking more information, please contact Matt Richards (Research Integrity Officer) or via telephone on 0121 204 5069.

AURIO has developed guidance and templates for the preparation of participant facing documentation including Participant Information Sheets and Consent Forms. You can access these documents at our Research Integrity Office intranet page.

University Research Ethics Committee (UREC)

All research should be registered on the Aston University Research Portal. For research that involves human participants, human tissue or where governance needs closer scrutiny, the application will be reviewed by the local Protocol and Ethics Review Board, being further escalated to UREC if required.

The Terms of Reference and Constitution can be found below.
 

Any queries should be sent to ethics.

UREC meets on the first Thursday of each month with deadlines for applications 1 week prior at 12 noon.

University Research Ethics Committee Meetings 2021

14 January
4 February
4 March
1 April
6 May
3 June
6 July
5 August
2 September
7 October
4 November 
2 December 

Upon receipt, your application will undergo checks to ensure that it is a valid submission. Applications which are incomplete or lack the required supporting documents may be returned to the applicant.

Human Tissue Research at Aston

Aston University is licensed by the Human Tissue Authority for “storage of relevant human material for a scheduled purpose" under the Human Tissue Act (2004), subject to compliance with its strictly regulated code of practice. If you are working or intend to work with relevant human material as defined by the Act, you must contact research governance before the research begins.

HTA regulates the removal, storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissue for a number of Scheduled Purposes (such as research, transplantation, and education and training) set out in the Human Tissue Act.

Under the Act the Designated Individual (DI) under the licensed is responsible for licensed activities and supervising compliance with the licensing arrangements:

License Number12381
License HolderAston University
University
Licensed Premises
Aston University
Designated Individual (DI)Becky Case

AURIO provide the secretariat support for HTA Oversight Group, for any queries please contact research governance.

Research Requiring Sponsorship or External Approval

Research with the NHS

If you are considering undertaking research within the NHS (this includes patients and/or staff and/or their data) please contact research governance as early as possible for support and guidance.

If your study requires sponsorship from Aston University under the UK Framework for Health and Social Care Research, please contact AURIO and consult the Health Research Authority (HRA) website for more information.

Research with HMPPS

All researchers wanting to conduct research with staff and/or offenders in prison establishments, National Probation Service (NPS)/Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) regions or within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Headquarters are required to formally apply for research approval to the HMPPS National Research Committee (NRC).

All student applications below doctoral level need to be supported by an MOJ/HMPPS business lead in order to be considered. This business support needs to come from a senior member of staff, working in MOJ/HMPPS Headquarters who is willing to state that they believe the research is going to be of benefit to MOJ/HMPPS and will have minimal resource demands. Find out more information.

These kind of studies will require sponsorship from Aston University under the UK Framework for Health and Social Care Research, please contact AURIO.

MODREC Research Ethics review

The Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee (MODREC) ensures that all research involving human participants either undertaken, funded or sponsored by MOD meets nationally and internationally accepted ethical standards. UREC recognises a favourable ethical opinion (FEO) or approval from the MODREC.

These kind of studies will require sponsorship from Aston University under the UK Framework for Health and Social Care Research, please contact AURIO.

Animals in Science

Aston University is one of the signatories for the CONCORDAT ON OPENNESS ON ANIMAL RESEARCH IN THE UK. The Concordat on Openness is a set of commitments for UK-based life science organisations to enhance their animal research communications.

Aston University endorses the ARRIVE guidelines for use of animals in medical research. The ARRIVE (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments) guidelines were developed as part of a National Centre for the replacement, refinement and reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) initiative to improve the design, analysis and reporting of research using animals – maximising information published and minimising unnecessary studies. Information is available about the ARRIVE guidelines.

The University’s ethical review process involves the Bioethics Committee and involves lay representatives, external and internal members. It provides ethical advice on the standards of animal care, welfare and accommodation. The Committee ensures that those working with animals are aware of their responsibilities and receive appropriate training. Veterinary and animal care staff are actively involved in the ethical review process, offering ongoing advice and support to researchers where necessary.

Genetic Resources

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (the ‘ABS’ Protocol) is an international agreement that implements the access and benefit-sharing obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Genetic resources in this context include any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity which is of actual or potential value, or derivatives.

Researchers who source or use such material are required to 'exercise diligence' to ensure that genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with those resources have been accessed in accordance with applicable access and benefit sharing laws implemented by the source country.

Find out more information on the Nagoya Protocol and how to comply with it.

Clinical Trials

The AllTrials report to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into Research integrity: Clinical trial transparency (2019) reported on progress made by UK publicly funded institutes’. The reporting is based on data collected and displayed on the EUTrialsTracker. The Tracker tool relies on data from the EU Clinical Trials Register (EUCTR) which is far from perfect. There are trials on the EUCTR that never started and which are incorrectly marked as overdue reporting. 

The authors acknowledge this, but the appendix quoted as giving additional data is missing. Misleadingly, despite rigorous communication from Aston University, the authors of this 2019 report have stated that the only Aston report due is missing. This trial, registered at the beginning of 2009, never started, but there is no way to update the record on EUCTR despite multiple requests. Hence Aston University is 100% compliant with Clinical Trial Transparency.

Research Misconduct

As outlined in our Research Integrity Assurance Procedures, you can now raise a concern confidentially by following the online form below. Concerns should be reported in good faith and accompanied by evidence that substantiates the concerns.

Full name