School Research Ethics Form Template Free for Adaptation & Use

A few weeks ago I blogged on the topic of research ethics in the context of school based research by teachers. I outlined a few bullet points on some considerations to bear in mind before embarking on a research project in a school, especially where minors who represent a vulnerable category of research participant are involved. I emphasised the need to gain informed consent and approval of parents, as well as the participants themselves, before research begins. Adding to this, I’ve put together a basic template below that can be adapted for your own use in school to communicate research ideas internally between staff, and to keep SLT informed for safeguarding issues and monitoring. I’ve adapted this from a similar form we use for MSc students involved in research projects at The University of Manchester.

I think the essential point to have in mind is that everything should be transparent, above board and well thought through in advance. I don’t think this should be seen as a tool for top down control by SLT of staff engaging in research, but it should be seen as a communication tool to enhance potential research activities going on within the school and to protect and safeguard the students being taught within it.

Feel free to use and adapt this template for your own use.

PRE-PROJECT RESEARCH ETHICS FORM
For Approval by the School Research Ethics Committee/Representative
To be completed and approved by SLT prior to seeking parental consent to embark on research
Copy to be kept on file by SLT and the member of staff proposing the research

Section 1: Basic Details
A) Name of school:
B) Name of teacher / member of staff submitting form:
C) Working title of proposed research project:
D) Name of research advisor / supervision contact:
E) For research advisor / supervision contact only: please initial and date here if you have seen and approved the project idea:

Section 2: Research Background
Use this space to answer the following questions (approx 150 words):
A) What do you intend to research on and why is this research important?
B) What are some of the key issues arising from prior reading of other published research you have already read on this topic? (Provide references of source material)
[Answer these questions by stating briefly the research problem and why investigating the problem is necessary. You should also state the possible benefits of your research, including who you think might benefit from this work]

Section 3: Research Methodology
Use this space to answer the following questions (approx 200 words):
A) What key research questions are you going to ask? (1-3 are recommended)
B) What information do you need to collect or use in your research?
C) How are you going to collect this information? Eg experiments, questionnaire surveys, interviews, case studies, participant observations, documents and information from official sources etc.
D) Why is collecting information in this way suitable for your research questions?
[You are not expected to provide a full explanation of the research method at this stage. You only need to briefly describe how you are going to collect information for your research, and explain why this approach is most suitable at this stage. Cite references where necessary]

Section 4: Ethical Risks
Use this space to answer the following questions (approx 200 words):
A) When collecting information for your research, will you be involving people? For example, will you be running experiments with or on people? Will you be asking people questions? Will you be collecting or using confidential information about people?
B) If you intend to involve people, what types of people would these be? How many people will you involve? Why do you need to involve these people?
[Answer these questions briefly. The purpose of this section is to ascertain the level of ethical risks of your research project, and establish whether there is a need to seek further approval in a more in depth way from the research ethics committee/representative. Think carefully about whether your data collection and analysis have the potential for causing harm to people, including revealing confidential information. If you are only engaging in a literature review project, just state that you will not involve any people in your research.

Section 5: Ethical Considerations
A) Use this space to answer the following considerations (approx 200 words):
B) How will you recruit people to willing participate in your research? (I.e. Voluntary participation and informed consent of students and parents and anyone else proposed?)
C) How will you protect the interests of the people in your research?
D) How will you store and protect information collected in your research?
E) Are there any risks to your own safety, and how will you minimise and manage these?

SLT signature and date of receipt of document:
Research approved by SLT?: Y/N
Comments/feedback by SLT:

Once this form has been approved and any comments and feedback acted upon, it should be ok to proceed to obtaining informed consent of voluntary research participants and their parents (if minors).

Image source: http://cheer.edu.vn/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/img_front-page.jpg

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3 thoughts on “School Research Ethics Form Template Free for Adaptation & Use

  1. This is useful, Carol. However, I think there could be some reference to the following issues:
    1] What will you tell participants about the research and how?
    2] What assurances will you make about anonymity/confidentiality? This is partially addressed in point C on Ethical Considerations. However, there needs to be more detail. How, for example, would you deal with a situation where a child discloses something to you that requires furtehr disclosure to a third party? How does that fit with guarantees of confidentiality. Anonymity is often promised but actually often impossible to guarantee. So what promises of anonymity are you making, and to what extent and how can this be ensured? What constitutes reasonable efforts to protect anonymity as far as is possible?
    3] It would be usual to consider participants’ right to withdraw from the research – a right sometimes neglected in school-based research where students might be given little leeway.

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