SSH IDREC and DREC application process

You should apply to the Social Sciences and Humanities Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (SSH IDREC) or (if applicable) to your own departmental research ethics committee (DREC) if you are applying from a department or faculty within the Social Sciences or Humanities divisions or from, for example, colleges/University administration departments.

If your department has a departmental research ethics committee (DREC) it will review your application in the first instance. If you do not have a DREC, your CUREC application will be reviewed by the Social Sciences and Humanities Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (SSH IDREC).

How to apply

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If your research project involves human participants and/or personal data, check whether this requires ethical review by using the flowchart:

See also the FAQ page.

If you are not sure which form to use, please complete section A in the CUREC 1A form, which will guide you (see below). If you can fully apply no more than one particular ‘approved procedure’ (eg if you are working with children/schools or if you are using deception), you can stay within the CUREC 1A frame rather than ‘triggering’ a CUREC 2 application (see below).

In this case, please use the procedure-specific participant information sheets and consent forms as well as any other supporting documents associated with this procedure. You can find these on our Approved procedures page.

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

You may also want to watch the video-recorded ethics training session for the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions (October 2019), which is available to view for anyone with a University Single-Sign On account. Users need to sign in via their SSO, and then click on ‘Recorded Lectures’ on the left side bar to view the video.

Please apply well in advance of the start of your research project. You may not start your study involving human participants or personal data until you have received your ethics approval letter.
Please see our timelines below.
 

 

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.

 

Please complete:

Supporting documents for external/internal use: 

  • recruitment invitation letters/emails/adverts
  • information sheets
  • consent forms and/or consent scripts
  • surveys/questionnaires/interview questions (written or online)

Please see our page on informed consent for more details, including templates we recommend you use for the written consent process and/or oral consent process.

This guide for ethics committees may also be helpful for applicants:

Please explain your project methods and potential ethical issues clearly and simply in your application. 
 

 

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.

 

This form is only to be completed if you know your project has 'complex ethical issues'. Please use the 'filter' in the CUREC 1A checklist above (Section A) to determine whether you should complete the CUREC 2 form instead of the CUREC 1A checklist.

Then, please complete:

Supporting documents for internal/external use:

  • recruitment invitation letters/emails/adverts
  • information sheets
  • consent forms and/or consent script
  • surveys/questionnaires/interview questions (written or online)

Please see our page on informed consent for more details, including templates we recommend you use for the written consent process and/or oral consent process. 

Please explain your project methods and potential ethical issues clearly and simply in your application.

Where to apply and timeframe

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If you have a departmental research ethics committee (DREC) please email your CUREC 1A application form and supporting documents for review and approval to your DREC, using your ox.ac.uk email address.

If you do not have a DREC, your CUREC 1A application will be reviewed by the SSH IDREC. Please email your application form and supporting documents to ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk, using your ox.ac.uk email address.

Please note that this process may yet conclude that a full CUREC 2 application is needed. This could be because your project raises particular ethical issues.
 

 

If you have your own departmental research ethics committee (DREC) please complete your CUREC 2 application form and email it, together with your supporting documents, to your DREC in the first instance, using your ox.ac.uk email address. The DREC will conduct an initial review and then forward this on to the SSH IDREC for final review and approval.

If you do not have a DREC, please email your application documents to ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk, using your ox.ac.uk email address.
 

 

The SSH IDREC or DREC secretariat will acknowledge receipt of your application and initiate the review process. Once reviewed, you will receive feedback via email. The committee may request changes or further information. Once all documents have been updated and questions answered to the satisfaction of the SSH IDREC or DREC, you will receive an approval letter. You may not start your study until you receive this letter.

The timeframe for review depends upon the study risk and quality of the application/supporting documents.  Note that the review clock starts when your application is valid (ie once signatures and all relevant supporting documents have been provided). It stops while we are waiting for revisions from you.

  If your department has a DREC If you apply straight to the SSH IDREC (ie if you don't have a DREC)
CUREC 1A Up to 30 days (your DREC will be able to advise on exact timeframes) Up to 30 days
CUREC 2 Initial review by DREC takes up to 3 weeks, with final review and approval by the SSH IDREC taking another 2-3 weeks or more, depending on complexity Up to 60 days

 

 

Low-risk research (eg. 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 , this may be ethically reviewed and approved solely by the student’s supervisor.

The project will then be exempt from further ethical review and approval by the DREC or (if the Department or Faculty does not have a DREC) 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 (eg. information for participants and consent documents), should then be emailed by the student 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. The DREC or SSH IDREC will solely acknowledge receipt of such applications and 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 either by the Medical Sciences Interdivisional Research Ethics Committee (MS IDREC) or by the Oxford Tropical Research Ethics Committee (OxTREC).

 

After approval

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As your project progresses, there may be reasons to make changes (eg to personnel, duration, or procedures). If these changes alter the ethical frame of the project and thus require re-review, please contact ethics@socsci.ox.ac.uk for advice, clearly laying out the changes and any resulting new ethical issues. Please see section E on our FAQs page for further details.

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 CUREC may not be able to provide ethical approval. An appeals procedure is available for appealing a decision to withhold, suspend or withdraw approval of research.

 
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