Both student and staff researchers will need to check if they need ethical approval. Depending on the nature of your research, this can either be done through your School or through University ethical review.

A detailed breakdown of the University’s ethical review process can be found online. This is a useful bank of information and there are also templates that can be downloaded here.

Research involving people

  • Data can be collected in person or online and it can be done via surveys, interviews as well as other means.
  • Clearly inform potential participants about the purpose of your research, how the data will be used.
  • Remember to make people aware that participation is voluntary and that they can withdraw consent at any time.
  • In some cases, you will need to provide potential participants with a written consent form that they must sign (e.g. in-depth interviews). You can download example consent forms from the University’s ethics website that can be adapt for your research project.
  • You must make participants aware whether you intend to anonymise responses or not. If you intend to name individuals you have collected data from then you need to gain permission from those participants. Individuals can request that they remain anonymous.
  • Store collected data on the University’s secure server not on personal computers, hard drives and USB sticks.
  • Identify where you will store the data after the completion of the project.

Commercial data

  • You will probably have to sign an agreement if you have been given access to commercial data that is confidential or for internal use only.
  • If you are not clear about how the data can be used or shared, always check with those who provided it.
  • You can also get guidance from the Sustainability Service on the use and sharing of data.

Downloadable PDF version.


(This has been adapted from the University of Edinburgh Living Lab and Edinburgh Living Lab and the toolkit prepared by Liz Cooper, Catherine Magill and Ewan Klein)