It is important that institutional research and evaluation is designed and conducted ethically and all researcher/evaluators are clear about their approach to ethics.

STEER can offer ethical guidance and support on aspects of research and evaluation ethics within the institution.

Ethical Approval of Institutional Research and Evaluation

“Ethical approval should not be a hurdle, but an opportunity to reflect on research design and receive pre-study peer review; embracing a more constructive approach may go some way to instil confidence and compliance with the process.” (Hack 2015)

Ethical approval will allow you to publish your findings externally at conferences and in written publication such as journals. The approval process can also provide an opportunity to reflect on reviewer feedback and enhance your methodology. If you are conducting this type of work STEER can support you with your application for ethical approval.


Ethical Practice

“We recommend that at all stages of a project – from planning through conduct to reporting – educational researchers undertake wide consultation to identify relevant ethical issues, including listening to those in the research context/site(s), stakeholders and sponsors. This means that ethical decision-making becomes an actively deliberative, ongoing and iterative process of assessing and reassessing the situation and issues as they arise.” (BERA 2018: 2)

Ethical approval is an institutional process; it may be more helpful to think about ethical practice in institutional research and evaluation. Your ethical practices should consider: consent; transparency; right to withdraw; incentives; harm arising from participation; privacy and data storage; and disclosure. This is particularly important if you are working with students as participants or co-researcher/evaluators.

Use this Ethical checklist (docx) to help guide your ethical practice when designing research and evaluation.

The use of participant information sheets, consent forms and survey briefs/debriefs will help to ensure sound ethical practice, and are an essential inclusion in an application for ethical approval.


Ethical Resources  

EthicsIR is a Hallam Guild Group which also aims to increase awareness and understanding of ethical principles involved in designing and conducting institutional research/evaluation at Hallam. They provide useful resources for those thinking about research and evaluation ethics.


The recent webinar Ethical Practice and Ethical Approval: Considerations for Research and Evaluation Projects 20/21 will provide an overview of ethical practices adopted by researchers and evaluators working within Sheffield Hallam University and Hallam Students Union.

Watch the webinar recording

This webinar would be of interest to any staff member or student researcher embarking on research and evaluation projects during this academic year. This webinar covered an introduction to EthicsIR Hallam Guild Group and an overview of key ethical practices that will require discussion when seeking ethical approval (consent, anonymity, withdrawal, data storage, protection from harm, incentives etc).

Previous presentations with external speakers included Dr Helen Kara and Professor Megan Lawton.

Additional resources