Department of Computer Science
  1. Adaptive Computing Systems
  2. Machine Learning
  3. giCentre
  4. Human Computer Interaction Design
  5. Software Reliability
  6. Research Ethics
  7. Data Science
Department of Computer Science

Research Ethics

Please note, this guidance only holds information relevant to research ethics in the Department of Computer Science. For all other information about research ethics at City, including information about how to apply, participant information sheets, consent form templates, and general guidance please see City's guidance on research ethics.

All research projects in the Department of Computer Science (CS) or the Department of Library and Information Science (LIS) that involve human participation must undergo formal ethical review. This includes research undertaken by staff and students in their capacity as members of City, University of London, irrespective of whether the research is funded and or the source of any funding. It includes research undertaken as part of taught undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes and projects undertaken by research students. It also applies to research carried out in CS and LIS by persons visiting the Department (e.g. visiting staff, visiting researchers etc.).

‘Human participation’ covers direct data collection from people. This can result from many different methods, including surveys, interviews, observation, video, photography and physiological measurement. It also includes using personal identifiable data from individual records such as case notes and large data sets from which individuals may be identified.

Secondary analysis of anonymised data that is published or otherwise disseminated does not require ethical approval. Analysis of routinely collected anonymised data that does not contain personal information and through which individuals cannot be identified does not need approval either, as long as permission has been given by the data owner. Literature reviews or reviews of published or otherwise disseminated material do not require ethical approval.

The Computer Science and Library and Information Science Research Ethics Committee (CSREC) handles ethical review of low and medium risk research activity for both departments. Approval for high-risk projects must be sought from either the University’s Senate REC or an appropriate external ethics committee.

The CSREC handles low risk research by a proportionate review process. Medium risk research is handled by a full application to the CSREC.

Approval must be obtained before the research can commence - it cannot be granted retrospectively.

Submissions to the Research Ethics Committee

The Committee accepts submissions at any time and has a target of 3 weeks for an initial response to applications made through proportionate review and 4 weeks for full applications. Applicants should plan for this when making their submission. This target may not be achievable during holiday periods or busy times of year. Note that this is not the time for final approval as re-submission may be required during the review process if CSREC requires modifications to the proposed research.

We are happy to discuss research proposals or the CSREC approval process prior to submission - use the CSREC email address.

Terms of Reference

The CSREC has delegated power of authority from the Senate Research Ethics Committee (SREC).

Its terms of reference align with the delegated authority conferred by SREC and are:

  1. To consider the ethical implications of research carried out in the Departments of Computer Science and Library and Information Science. Specifically, to consider research involving human participants, research involving identifiable personal data and research that may entail risk to the researcher.
  2. To review and approve low-risk research ethics applications through a proportionate process of peer review.
  3. To review and approve other research ethics applications that are deemed to lie within the remit of the CSREC through full application to the CSREC.
  4. The CSREC is not responsible for considering the ethics of research that falls within the categories considered to be of “potential higher risk” by the SREC Framework for Delegated Authority. This includes, but is not limited to: research that falls under the auspices of the NHS Research Ethics Service; research that involves participants who fall under the auspices of the Mental Capacity Act; research that involves participants who fall under the auspices of the Criminal Justice System; research involving animals, obscene or illegal material, sensitive subjects, intrusive procedures, the administration of drugs or other substances, participants who are unable to provide informed consent, the researcher travelling to countries where there is an active travel warning from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
  5. To consider and approve amendments to research that has been previously approved by the CSREC.
  6. To make available access to the application system, templates, guidelines and background documentation to staff and students in the departments.
  7. To advise staff and students in the departments on research ethics and the process for obtaining ethical approval for research.
  8. To report to the Senate REC on the activities of the CSREC as required. Minutes of all decisions and any meetings will be submitted to SREC.
  9. To review the committee's policy every two years and review the terms of reference at the first meeting of each academic year.

Composition of the research ethics committee

The CSREC consists of a Chair, a member of academic staff from each research centre in the Department of Computer Science, a member of academic staff from the Department of Library and Information Science, at least one research student from the Departments and two external members.

Appointment to CSREC is made by the Head of Department and will normally be for a period of two years and rarely for more than three years. One member of CSREC is designated as responsible for handling the proportionate review process for staff and research students; this responsibility rotates on a yearly basis.

The Chair of the CSREC is responsible for coordinating applications made to CSREC in line with CSREC policies and procedures, for maintaining records of the work of the CSREC, for reporting to the Board of Studies and the Senate REC. The Deputy Chair takes on such responsibilities in the Chair’s absence or where a conflict of interested is deemed to occur.

The Chair and Deputy Chair are responsible for knowledge transfer as the committee develops expertise and a case history.

Committee membership

Effective from 15th September 2017:

First name Second nameDeptRCRole From (Sept) To (Sept) Role at City
Jason Dykes CS giCentre Chair 2017 2019 Professor
Stefann Makri CS HCID   2018   Senior Lecturer
Tillman Weyde CS ML   2017   Lecturer
David Bawden LIS LIS Deputy; Prop Review 2015 2019 Professor
Nikos Komninos CS CSR   2017   Lecturer
Johannes Liem CS giCentre PhD 2016 2019 Research Student
Maria Krotsiani CS CeNACS   2017   Lecturer
Anna Ramberg R&E   Ext 2014   Senate REC
  VACANT    Ext 2017   Another School

Composition of the committee is reviewed each year with a need to balance expertise, continuity, the need for new perspectives and workload.