SSH IDREC and DREC application process

The University requires the ethics review of research involving human participants or personal data, as set out in its policy on research involving human participants and personal data.

Applicants based the Social Sciences Division or Humanities Division should submit their ethics application to their departmental research ethics committee (DREC) (if there is one) or to the Social Sciences and Humanities Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (SSH IDREC).

Applicants from colleges or administrative departments are also welcome to submit ethics applications to the SSH IDREC.

Before you start

FAQs

Our frequently asked questions include:

  • Do I need approval?
  • Completing the application
  • Data management

Guidance

The Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC) best practice guidance documents cover a range of topics.

CUREC’s approved procedures allow you to apply for ethical review using the process for lower-risk research (completing a CUREC 1A application form instead of a full CUREC 2 application form).

Information on the documents that will need to be prepared and submitted alongside the application form is provided in the Application forms and process section. There are also instructions within the application forms. 

Training

The core module of the University’s research ethics and integrity training is compulsory for all researchers. 

If you have not received any ethics-related training before, we also recommend taking our online research integrity course or face-to-face ethics training courses before you start your ethics application.

You may also find it helpful to watch a video-recorded ethics training session for the Social Sciences and Humanities divisions (October 2019). You will need to sign in with your University SSO, and then click on ‘Recorded lectures’ on the left side bar to view the video.

Timelines

You should allow 30 days for the review of a CUREC 1A application and 60 days for the review of a CUREC 2 application. 

Contacts

If you have any questions about the application process or about addressing the ethical issues in your research do contact your DREC administrator or the SSH IDREC Secretariat for advice.

Application forms and process

 

CUREC documents

All CUREC documents are subject to ongoing review. Please always refer to this page (rather than locally stored versions) for the current versions of application forms.

 

If you are not sure which form to use, please refer to the filter questions in section A of the CUREC 1A application form.

If you can fully apply no more than one approved procedure (for example if you are working with children or schools), you can apply for ethics review using the CUREC 1A form instead of the CUREC 2 form. 

Remember that you must complete the core module of the University’s research ethics and integrity training before starting your research. 

It helps to explain your project methods and potential ethical issues clearly and simply in your application. The reviewers may not be experts in your discipline. 

It is much better to use your application to show that you have identified and addressed the ethical issues associated with your research than to try to downplay them. Showing that you have a good grasp of the ethical issues will give the reviewers confidence in your ability to address them throughout the course of your research. 

Expand All

 

Applications should be submitted from your ox.ac.uk email address to your DREC (if your department has one) or to the SSH IDREC via ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk

Before an application can be reviewed, a signature or email endorsement is needed from the PI, the student (for student research) and the head of department or nominee. 

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your application. Please allow 30 days for the review process for CUREC 1A applications. 
 

 

Applications should be submitted from your ox.ac.uk email address to your DREC (if your department has one) or otherwise to the SSH IDREC via ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk

If your department has its own DREC, your application will be reviewed and approved by the DREC and then by the SSH IDREC. 

If your department does not have a DREC, your application will just be reviewed by the SSH IDREC. 

Before an application can be reviewed, a signature or email endorsement is needed from the PI, the student (for student research) and the head of department or nominee. 

You will receive an email confirming receipt of your application. Please allow 60 days for the review process for CUREC 2 applications. 

 

Remember to include relevant supporting documents with your application, for example:

  • recruitment invitation letters, emails and adverts
  • information sheets
  • consent forms and consent scripts
  • surveys, questionnaires and interview questions 
  • a copy of the approved risk assessment, if relevant
  • signatures or email endorsement from the head of department (or nominee), the principal investigator and the student (if applicable)

Our guidance on obtaining participants’ informed consent includes templates that you are welcome to use, but remember to adapt them to your project and to your participants. 

 

Once your application has been reviewed, you will receive feedback by email, normally within 2 to 3 weeks. At this point the committee may request changes or further information. When revising the documents, it helps the reviewers if you use track changes and leave in the reviewers’ comments. 

You will receive an approval letter once your application has been approved. You must not start your study until you receive this letter.

 

Low-risk research (for example work towards an essay or thesis) undertaken by an undergraduate student whose research is eligible for review by the SSH IDREC or a DREC may qualify for expedited review. If the student can meet the criteria of, and follow, CUREC Approved Procedure 06, the student’s supervisor may conduct the ethics review. The project will then be exempt from further ethical review and approval by the DREC or by the SSH IDREC. The procedure sets out in further detail the type of low-risk undergraduate research eligible for this expedited review process.

In such cases, the undergraduate student must still complete and sign the CUREC1A checklist, which must also be signed and endorsed by the student’s supervisor. This, together with any related documents (for example information for participants and consent documents), should then be emailed by the student's supervisor (from an ox.ac.uk email address) to the appropriate DREC (where one exists) or to the SSH IDREC (via ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk) for their records. Please make it clear that the application has already been reviewed following this process otherwise it might be treated like a normal application to the DREC or IDREC. The DREC or SSH IDREC will acknowledge receipt of such applications but will not issue a formal letter of ethical approval of the project.

Please note that this procedure cannot be used by students whose research is eligible for review by the Medical Sciences Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (MS IDREC) or by the Oxford Tropical Research Ethics Committee (OxTREC).

 

After approval

Expand All

 

As your project progresses, there may be reasons to make changes (for example to the researcher involved, the duration, or procedures). If these changes alter the ethical frame of the project and thus require re-review, please fill out an amendment form and submit this, the revised application form and any revised supporting document to ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk or to your DREC for review. If the original application had been reviewed by both a DREC and the SSH IDREC (for example a CUREC 2) then the amendment must be submitted to the IDREC for review. 

 

The committee may ask to review your project, or for you to complete an annual progress report as part of routine monitoring exercises:

Please always make sure you have the most up-to-date study procedures, supporting information and approval letters to hand for ease of review.  

 

In extremely rare cases it may not be possible to approve an ethics application. An appeals procedure is available for appealing a decision to withhold, suspend or withdraw approval of research.

 

In the event that a complaint is made either about research approved by this committee or about the committee itself, the complaints process will be followed: