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Research Ethics and Governance

The University promotes a culture of research integrity, and supports researchers to carry out their research activities with integrity, by maintaining a suite of policies, providing teaching and training in research ethics and integrity, and promoting a growing library of guidance documents covering many different issues and concerns.

Research Integrity

The University of Kent expects all those engaged in research, and supporting research within the University, to conduct their activities with integrity.  This will ensure that all research, and the application of research, carried out at or on behalf of the University, is conducted according to the appropriate ethical, legal, professional frameworks, obligations, and standards.

Raising concerns about research integrity:

To maintain the highest standards of research integrity the University is compliant with the Concordat to Support Research Integrity.       

You can view our reports on research integrity in our annual reports to the Senate.

We take all concerns about research integrity seriously. We have dedicated named contacts for whistleblowing, raising concerns, and for advice about our policies on good research conduct and investigation of allegations of research misconduct.  

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, is the University’s named point of contact to act as a confidential liaison for whistle-blowers or any other person wishing to raise concerns about the integrity of research supported by the University of Kent.

The Senior Research Ethics and Goverance Officer, can provide advice on research ethics and integrity, and the University’s policies on good research conduct and investigation of allegations of research misconduct.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Our researchers must be aware of their responsibilities in relation to GDPR.  The provisions of European Union GDPR are incorporated into UK law as UK GDPR, alongside the Data Protection Act 2018.

Guidance for researchers to help them ensure they are compliant with GDPR has been developed.  Project-specific research data protection details included in participant information must contain a link to the University-level statement on GDPR which sets out our lawful basis for the processing of personal information for research purposes.

Guidance for REAGs and reviewers to assess research ethics applications for compliance with GDPR is also available.

Review and approval

There are various routes for review and approval for different types of research, in accordance with legislative and policy requirements.  The University has developed a proportionate process for identifying the appropriate route for review for each study, via the research ethics review process.  The first stage in the process is completion of a checklist which will identify whether the project requires research ethics review via an external committee, a light-touch review, or a full ethics review.

What you need to do:

Research involving the National Health Service and Social Care

Research within the National Health Service (NHS) or Social Care, or involving patients, service users and the public (including carers, relatives of patients and service users and healthy volunteers) must be conducted in accordance with the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care. Our researchers must identify a Sponsor organisation to accept overall responsibility for proportionate, effective arrangements being in place to set up, run and report a research project in compliance with the UK Policy Framework.

If you are planning research in the NHS or Social Care you should contact the Research Ethics and Governance Manager at the earliest opportunity for advice and guidance on Sponsorship and navigating the procedures and processes.

National Health Service Passport process

Researchers planning to carry out research activities in the NHS, or involving NHS patients, data or tissues, must apply for a Research Passport. This enables researchers to obtain the checks their research activity requires, such as Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) and Occupational Health checks, and evidence them to all involved NHS organisations without duplication.

Researchers should contact the Research Ethics and Governance Manager for advice on making a Research Passport application and assistance with liaison between HR and Occupational Health.     

The Human Tissue Act and research

The removal, storage and use of human tissue in research is governed by the Human Tissue Act 2004. The act sets out specific consent requirements for research ethics review for studies involving material that has come from a human body and consist of, or includes, human cells.  

Researchers planning studies involving collection and/or use of human tissue must contact the Research Ethics and Governance Manager for advice and guidance on compliance with the HTA and navigating review procedures and processes. 

The Mental Capacity Act and research

Research involving adults aged 16 and over who lack capacity, and are unable to make decisions for themselves, is governed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Specific requirements for research ethics review, and a statutory Code of Practice, provide guidance on the application of the Act and researcher's legal duties. Researchers have a legal duty to have regard to the guidance in the Code of Practice.

Researchers planning studies involving people who may lack capacity to consent must contact the Research Ethics and Governance Manager for advice and guidance on compliance with the MCA and navigating review procedures and processes.   

Research involving animals

The University of Kent is committed to high quality research and teaching. Such research has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution to the understanding of the biological sciences and to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease in both humans and animals.  Whilst new methods increasingly enable scientists and medical researchers to reduce studies involving animals, non-animal methods have yet to be developed that can properly reproduce the complex biological characteristics of a living system.

The University is committed to ensuring that animals are used only when there is no alternative, that researchers use the minimum number of animals needed to meet their scientific objectives and to achieving the highest possible standards of animal care and welfare.  The principles of replacement, reduction and refinement of the use of animals in research (the “3Rs”) underpin all related work carried out at the University.

Research at the University of Kent makes extensive use of alternatives such as cell culture, which is why our use of animals has always been, and continues to be, very low. We do not use animals if there is an alternative and without very careful consideration, both by our schools and by the University Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body. Where the use of an animal is judged essential, we make every effort to ensure that the research uses the minimum number of animals needed to meet the scientific objectives and that those animals experience the highest possible standards of care and welfare.

Animal use in research at Kent

Year Number of animals used in academic research Species
2019 289 Mice
2020 295 Mice
2021 274 Mice
2022 371 Mice
Last updated