Ethical Clearance for Research

Research Integrity embodies a range of good research practice and conduct which can include intellectual honesty, accuracy, fairness, intellectual property, and protection of human and animal subjects involved in the conduct of research.  Responsibilities for research integrity are shared by individual researchers and the institution, and will be the subject of further development at Zayed University, including the drafting of ‘Codes of Conduct’ in 2010. 

Ethical Clearance for Research

All proposed research should consider ethical clearance at both the application and implementation stages.  Ethical clearance for involvement of human subjects in your research should be sought prior to any research work being undertaken, including pilot studies or focus groups.

Most research granting organizations will require completion of ethical clearance from your organization – the approving body often referred to as the Institutional Review Board (IRB) in US universities. Always check the ethical clearance requirements of the research granting organization you are applying to, as there can be marked variations. 

Collaborative research projects involving other researching institutions will often require the ethical clearance of all participating institutions and can be quite time consuming.

All researchers wishing to conduct medical research in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, or collaborate with researchers in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, should familiarise themselves with the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) Human Subjects Research Policy and Institutional Licencing Policy.  These policies clearly detail requirements for the conduct of human subjects research and the possible sanctions for non-compliance.

 When should ethical clearance for use of human or animal subjects in research be sought?

At Zayed University, clearance should be sought for all research in which it is anticipated that human or animal subjects will be involved as subjects of the research (e.g. as subjects of surveys or interviews, or as subjects of clinical trials) including: 

  • Unfunded research conducted by faculty whO intend to use students, faculty or staff within ZU as subjects for their research  
  • Research which is funded through research grants (e.g. ZU RIF Grants, ZU Start-Up Grants, or from externally funded grant organizations such as the National Research Foundation or Emirates Foundation)  
  • Research conducted by external people outside ZU community, who are seeking to use students, faculty or staff within ZU as subjects for their research  
  • All clinical research  

Why is ethical clearance sought?

 The ethical principles upon which much research world-wide is conducted are shaped by 'The Belmont Report' to ensure:

  • Respect for persons (the research consent process ensures autonomy for individuals – 'informed' consent, confidentiality of data etc.)  
  • Beneficence (the intention to do no harm – to maximize possible benefits and minimize possible risks to people involved in research)  
  • Justice (fairness in distribution of research inclusion and exclusion)  

It is in the interest of both the institution and all researchers that research projects are reviewed and conducted ethically, both to protect the rights and welfare of research subjects, as well as to enable international recognition for creditable institutional procedures.  Society entrusts investigators with the privilege of using other humans to advance knowledge, but the research community as a whole suffers when even a few investigators ignore basic principles of ethics.

How do I obtain ethical clearance for my research? 

  1. Read the Ethical Clearance Guidelines
    Depending on the nature of their research, some applicants may be required to complete a Full Application for Ethical Clearance.  However, many applicants will find their research is exempt from the full application process.  In these cases, an Exemption from Full Ethical Clearance form should be completed. 


  2. Complete the relevant ethical clearance form


  3. Attach all required documentation
    • a copy of the informed consent form you will use with participants. Students may use the following template as informed consent form.
    • a copy of all survey tools, questionnaires or interview templates you will be using. Note: Students are required to submit the following form, if they wish to distribute any survey inside or/ and outside Zayed University.


  4. Attach any other relevant supporting documentation
    • Principal Investigator’s CV, generated from SEDONA
    • Any Co-Investigator’s CV
    • Any prior ethical clearance approval issued by another institution
    • Any prior ethical clearance approval issued by your Co-PI’s institution
    • Evidence of the qualifications of any Research Assistants or other supporting staff
    • Any budget outlines, resource or equipment lists

      5. Submit all materials to the ZU Research Ethics Committee (REC) with a copy to the Committee's Chair (Dr Mercedes Sheen, Academic Year     2012-13)

Applicants will receive a written response within a few days of the Committee meeting. Approved applicants will receive an approval letter including their ethical  clearance approval number and other relevant information.  Unsuccessful applicants will receive an email with recommendations for revision and resubmission.

    • ADEC guidelines for research access to schools

Researchers who would like access to Abu Dhabi K-12 schools are required to submit an online application through the Abu Dhabi Eductation Council (ADEC) website.

    • Research at Zayed University Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC)

Researchers who would like access to the ECLC are required to submit an application through the ECLC Research Review Committee with the ZU IRB forms. Please see the policies, guidelines, research priorities and forms on the ECLC's research website.

It is highly recommended that researchers contact the ECLC for guidance regarding access prior to submitting their IRB application.

What if I have already obtained ethical clearance prior to the REC being established?

The REC was established at the start of the 2009/10 academic year. All ethical clearance approvals issued prior to the establishment of the REC will be honored.  There is no requirement for researchers to gain additional approvals, unless variations to their approved research protocol have occurred.

If however, you require formal acknowledgment of the REC, for research which was approved prior to the establishment of the committee, please submit the required documentation as described above, to the REC for review.

Re-approval will be issued with the statement, "It is recognized that an ethical clearance approval has been granted for this research within Zayed University in the past, and as formal confirmation of this approval, your ethical clearance has been issued with the approval number 'x' at the committee meeting dated 'x'."

In some instances, researchers may be asked to submit additional information before re-approval can be issued.