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Sociology Research

 

All members of the Department conducting research must apply for ethical and risk assessment approval from the Department SERAR Committee, or receive confirmation from them that ethical approval is not required.

The SERAR Committee is operating normally during the COVID-19 outbreak and will endeavour to continue normal service. Applicants planning research projects involving proximate or face-to-face interaction with participants and those involving international travel should take account of the University’s rolling COVID-19 guidance.

Ethical approval process

Any research involving human participants or access to sensitive data will require ethical and risk assessment approval to be obtained in advance of the research being conducted.

  1. Read the accompanying guidance from the SERAR Committee on how to complete your risk assessment form.
  2. Fill in the risk assessment form using the guidance provided to assist you. If you are a student, ensure the form has been checked and signed by your supervisor.
  3. Email the form to Odette Rogers at least two weeks in advance of your research start date. PhD students must submit the ethics and risk forms before applying for fieldwork funding.
  4. The SERAR Committee will review your application in two stages, as outlined in the guidance. Research cannot begin until ethical approval has been confirmed.

Keeping yourself safe

Managing the risks to your safety is an important consideration for everyone involved in research. The University has developed a training video on assessing travel risk and the Safeguarding Work Away website, which has a lot of information that is useful and supportive. Even if your work is all online, there are still risks to be considered and managed such as doxxing and trolling. You can watch our Digital and Online Safety seminar for tips on managing risks for online research.

If you are a postgraduate student travelling for a conference or similar and will not be undertaking research, then you need to fill in a Travel Risk Assessment Form alongside your application for leave to work away (if you will be away from Cambridge for more than 14 days).

Further information

The Research Operations Office website on Ethics in Research gives details of how ethical approval is managed within the University as a whole. The Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSS REC) reviews complex or high-risk ethics issues in research projects in the arts, humanities and social sciences or cognate areas. All research involving vulnerable adults, participants under 18 or sensitive topics will be referred to the HSS REC.