Undertaking research outside the United Kingdom

Over-riding principles

The following are the principles that supervisors, project designers and Ethics Committees must consider when designing and approving student and staff research projects, which are to be undertaken outside the United Kingdom:

  1. The health and safety of the person or persons undertaking the project and of the subjects of the research project should be a primary consideration.
  2. Any legal liabilities and responsibilities that could arise out of the research project by reason of the local legal jurisdiction in which the project is to be conducted.
  3. Researchers and Project teams must take account of cultural sensitivities and cultural differences and the extent to which these may impact on the research and its viability and validity.
  4. Issues relating to the access to data sources must also be carefully considered. This is especially important for research projects that require access to children and vulnerable adults but must be considered in all situations where the data sources are human subjects. The issues to be considered by project teams include the circumstances in which data subjects might be coerced into participating in the project. Researchers and Project teams must also consider the question of informed consent and the way in which this is obtained from the data subject in jurisdictions, which, because of cultural differences, approach the matter of informed consent differently from the approach taken in the United Kingdom.
  5. Language issues especially in relation to the collection, recording and reporting of data. It is important to emphasise that English is the language that must be used for reporting data. It is the responsibility of the researcher or project team to provide sufficient evidence, where the collecting and recording is in another language, of accurate translation. This may, for example, involve independent translation into English of consent forms, data collection instruments or other documentation used in the research. Ultimately it is essential for quality assurance purposes that the research supervisor and external examiners are able to verify all aspects of the research.
  6. All data collected in relation to the research project must be secured at all times to ensure confidentiality. This is especially important during periods when the data or the media on which the data is stored is in transit.
  7. It is recommended, that any research study incorporating research work outside the United Kingdom, that involves human subjects, should be treated by the Ethics Committee as Category B research. A document that contains a Risk Analysis and Assessment must accompany all research protocols that entail research outside of the United Kingdom.