Quick Research Ethics Self-Check

The following is a set of questions that probe whether your research is ethically sensitive and if it is low risk or high risk. The questions are adapted from the ethics self-assessment tool at the University of Sussex.

Will your research likely need a research ethics review?

It is highly likely that you will need ethical review if you intend your research to involve the following:

Is my research considered high risk?

If you answer any of the following questions with yes, your research will be considered high risk and will likely require in-depth engagement with ethics procedures.

yes/no Will your study involve participants who are particularly vulnerable or unable to give informed consent or in a dependent position (e.g. children, minors, people with learning difficulties, over-researched groups or people in care facilities)? Note: Students that attend your class are considered to be dependent and therefore in a vulnerable position.
yes/no Will participants be taking part in the study without their consent or knowledge at the time (e.g. covert observation of people in non-public places), and / or will deception of any sort be used?
yes/no Will it be possible to link identities or trace information back to individual participants in any way?
yes/no Might the study induce psychological stress or anxiety, or produce humiliation or cause harm or negative consequences beyond the risks encountered in the everyday life of the participants?
yes/no Will the study involve discussion of sensitive topics (e.g. sexual activity, drug use, ethnicity, political behaviour, potentially illegal activities)?
yes/no Will financial or other inducements be offered to participants (e.g., course credits, substantial payments, but not reasonable compensation for taking part)?

What now?

If you come to the conclusion that you need to think more about the ethics issues, consider writing up an ethics self-assessment document that supports the thinking and planning around ethical issues in your work. Most times, this proves to be an effective process of organising your stance and might in and by itself be sufficient.

If you require informal help in the area of HCI and ethics, please do not hesitate to contact any member of faculty at our group (see here).

For your ethics-related inquiries concerning grant applications, ethics requirements of funding bodies and publications, and ethics approvals, please contact Marjo Rauhala, research ethics coordinator at Research, Technology and Innovation Support.