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School of Natural Sciences Research Ethics Committee

In line with Trinity College Dublin’s Policy on Good Research Practice, all research in the School of Natural Sciences (SNS) should be conducted according to the overarching ethical principles of “respect for the individual subject or population, beneficence and the absence of maleficence (research should have the maximum benefit with minimal harm) and justice.”

All individuals involved in research should facilitate and ensure research is conducted ethically. Ethical conduct in research is a shared responsibility. Primary responsibility rests with the Principal Investigator(s). Ethical responsibilities and legal obligations may overlap. All staff and students conducting research are required to ensure that their research is carried out in compliance with this policy. Ethical review is required before any studies involving human subjects, other living organisms and/or the natural environment, encompassing biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, commence. This requirement applies to staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students and volunteers/interns. Field- and laboratory work cannot commence until ethical review has been completed and approval has been gained. Staff or students planning to undertake research should complete the Research Ethics Application (Appendix 2). 

Projects involving researchers from other Schools or institutions which have ethical approval from those bodies do not need further ethical approval, but evidence of the approval must be submitted to the SNS REC.

The process for applying for ethical approval is outlined in the following steps:

1. Review the Trinity College Dublin Policy on Good Research Practice  

2. All researchers must complete the Section 1 ‘Applicant Details’ and Section 2 ‘Initial Research Ethics Checklist’. If the study is desk-based or does not include interaction with live organisms, including humans as research models, nor does it involve working in natural or human-made outdoor habitats, then it is deemed not to require ethical approval, and the study can proceed without the approval of an ethics committee, but the completed and signed (Section 5) form should be submitted to the REC. SNS Research Ethics Application Form

All researchers must complete the Section 1 ‘Applicant Details’ and Section 2 ‘Initial Research Ethics Checklist’. If the study does not include the study of live organisms, including humans, as subjects of research then it is deemed not to require ethical approval, then the study can proceed without the approval of an ethics committee, but the completed and signed (Section 5) form should be submitted to the REC. If the study is deemed to require ethical approval, then the applicant should complete Section 3 ‘Checklist for School REC suitability’ to determine if the application is suitable for consideration by the School REC. Checklists for student projects must be endorsed by their supervisor. If the study is suitable for consideration by a Level 1 committee (ie none of section 3 questions were answered “Yes” without the possibility of mitigation to reduce ethical risk), the researcher should complete Section 4 ‘Ethical Approval Application’. Students should ensure that this is approved by the project supervisor before being sent to the Chair of the REC (as indicated on the form). All researchers must complete Section 5 ‘Declaration’.
If any of the answers to the checklist in Section 3 are yes, and suitable mitigation cannot be applied, the study requires the approval of a Level 2 committee. The applicant should then download the application and procedures for the appropriate Level 2 REC (the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science REC, or the Animal REC for vertebrate research).
All animal (vertebrate) research must be ultimately approved by the Animal REC; research involving vertebrates in their natural habitats will be assessed by the SNS REC initially and then the decisions will be overseen by the AREC, but any research involving vertebrates in a laboratory setting needs to be submitted directly to the AREC. Please see HPRA guidelines

3. Submit participant information and informed consent forms where applicable (Appendix 2).

4. The ethics application will be reviewed by two members of the SNS Research Ethics Committee and returned to the applicant by the 1st of the month following submission.

5. Respond if necessary to any requests for further information, or clarification, that the committee might make in relation to the approval request. Discuss these with your supervisor where necessary. Both student and supervisor will be given notice when REC decision is made.

6. For projects of more than one year duration, if there are changes to the project details which may have a bearing on ethical considerations, then applicants must submit an annual report (Appendix 3). All applicants must submit an end of project report upon completion of the study (Appendix 4).

For further clarification please contact:


Last updated 8 February 2017 Natural Sciences (Email).