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UCL Research Ethics Committee


UCL Research Ethics Committee
Constitution and Membership

Terms of Reference

The UCL Research Ethics Committee (REC) has the following delegated authority from Research Governance Committee (RGC):

  • To develop and review institutional guidelines in consultation with RGC and faculties to ensure that appropriate advice is available for staff, supervisors and students on good practice in relation to the ethics of their research.
  • To review and approve, or withhold approval from, all research proposals classed as 'high risk' as outlined in our guidance at: ethics.grad.ucl.ac.uk/forms/ucl-research-ethics.pdf
  • To review and approve, or withhold approval from, amendments to previously approved protocols.
  • To review appeals, complaints and adverse events or incidents reported regarding ethically approved research.
  • To report on an annual basis to RGC to include a summary of all reviewed projects and a report on the effectiveness of current practice and procedures.


  • An academic member of UCL staff to act as Chair appointed by the Chair of Research Governance Committee following an internal selection process and in consultation with the UCL Vice-Provost (Research).
  • A minimum of one Deputy Chair to be appointed from within the membership of the Committee.
  • Eleven academic staff of UCL to be nominated by UCL Vice-Deans (Research) to ensure cross-faculty representation (1 to serve as Deputy Chair). These academic members will also serve as Chairs of the Faculty-based Research Ethics Committees once established.
  • Four lay members (a third), having no connection with UCL and therefore able to give a completely independent review of research projects.
  • One academic member of staff at UCL co-opted by the Committee for the specialist review of clinical studies conducted overseas.

Research Ethics Administrator, Office for the Vice Provost Research (OVPR), UCL.

For a meeting to be considered as quorate there must be at least six members of the committee present, at least one of whom should be a lay member and one must be the Chair or Deputy Chair.

Modus Operandi

Chair's review applications
The Chair to review minimum risk applications with the option to call upon the expertise of committee member(s) if required.

If neither the Chair or Vice-Chair is present at a meeting, the REC may elect a lay member present to act as Chair.

Term of Office of Members
Three years with the option of renewal for a further year.

Specialist Advice
The Chair may invite an individual to attend a particular meeting or meetings to give specialist advice to the REC. Such individuals however should not participate in the final decision-making of the REC.

Declaration of Interest
REC members must inform the Chair if they have a vested financial or personal interest in a research project or with a project sponsor. The Chair will decide whether the interest disqualifies the member from the discussion. The REC administrator will maintain a Register of Members' Interest which will be annually updated by members.

Indemnity for REC Members
UCL will maintain appropriate insurance cover, and will indemnify all members of the REC against any claims made against them which arise in respect of their membership of the REC, provided that they have acted in good faith in reaching the decisions made.

The REC will meet a minimum of ten times a year according to a publicised schedule. Dates for submission of applications will be published. Closing dates for submissions will be three weeks prior to the meeting and will be strictly adhered to. The REC aims to convey decisions to the applicants within one week of the meeting.

Annual Reporting
Submission of an annual report to RGC to include:

  • a list of membership;
  • details of changes to procedures;
  • a list of decisions made in the year;
  • a report on any appeals, complaints or adverse incidents;
  • a report on the overall function of the committee, including any emerging ethical issues and difficulties experienced during the year.

Powers of the REC

The REC may:

  • approve the research without requiring any amendment or correction to the research protocol.
  • grant approval in principle. The application is essentially ethically sound, however the researcher needs to make some minor amendments before it can be approved (normally by Chair's action).
  • defer approval. The REC could not reach a decision and needs to seek further advice.
  • decide not to approve the research due to the fact that the application is seriously flawed and requires major revision before it can be re-considered.
  • reject the research. The study is deemed unethical.

The REC will provide the researcher with comprehensive reasons for requiring modification to proposals, rejecting them or deferring approval.

The REC will maintain a record of all approved research submissions and may call for reports in the course of a research project or on its completion to help the REC in formulating its guidance and so that the REC can be assured that projects continue to conform to approved ethical standards.

Ratified by Research Governance Committee
7th June 2017

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