The Main Reasons why Ethical Approval is Required
In order for research to result in benefit and minimise risk of harm, it must be conducted ethically. UCL's review processes are intended to ensure this whilst remaining sensitive to the needs of researchers.
If ethical approval is not obtained when it should have been (i.e. if the research is not exempt from ethical review) prior to commencement of a study, this could impact on a research participant's settlement in the event of a claim and could damage UCL's insurance profile. It is expected therefore that all studies that require ethical approval have that approval in place before the research begins.
It is generally accepted that funders, such as research councils will not provide financial support for research that does not have ethical approval. Many publications will now no longer accept for publication results of research that was not ethically approved. As such, researchers may need to present evidence of ethical approval in order to publish their results to the wider research community.
Participants have the right to know who has access to their data and what is being done with it. Changes to modern society have seen an increase in litigation as a means of solving disputes. If ethical approval has not been obtained, the individual researcher bears personal responsibility for any claim.
The aim of ethical review is to protect participants. They are a valuable part of the research process and not merely a means of accessing data. However, ethical review also helps to protect the researcher. By obtaining ethical approval you are demonstrating that you have adhered to the accepted ethical standards of a genuine research study which could increase recruitment potential.