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 and establishment of the Research Ethics Committee (see REC Policies and Procedures hyperlink).

Ethical Clearance for Research

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

Most research-granting organizations will require completion of their own ethical clearance as well as evidence of ethical approval from Zayed University.  Always check the ethical clearance requirements of the research-granting organization you are applying to, as there can be marked variations between their requirements and those of Zayed University. 

Collaborative research projects involving other universities or research institutions will often require the ethical clearance of all participating institutions and can be quite time consuming.  Please ensure you allow plenty of time to make the appropriate applications, as approval from one institution does not automatically give you ethical clearance from the other participating institutions.

All researchers wishing to conduct medical research in the UAE should familiarize themselves with the appropriate local health authority.  Researchers in Abu Dhabi should consult with the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HADD) Human Subjects Research Policy and Institutional Licensing Policy.  Researchers in Dubai should consult with the Dubai Health Authority. These policies clearly detail requirements for the conduct of human subjects research and the possible sanctions for non-compliance.

guidelines for research access to schools in Abu Dhabi:  Researchers who would like access to Abu Dhabi K-12 schools are required to submit an online application through the Abu Dhabi's Department of Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) 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 REC application.

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' which ensures:

  • 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 Zayed University 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. 
  1. Complete the relevant ethical clearance form
    1. Attach all required documentation
    • informed consent form
    • Students may use the following template as an informed consent form.
    • All survey tools, questionnaires or interview templates WHICH 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.
  1. 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
  1. Submit all materials to the ZU Research Ethics Committee (REC)

Applicants will receive a written response within a week of the Research Ethics Committee meeting (see dates of meetings – hyperlink).  Applicants whose research ethics application was approved during the meeting will receive a letter confirming the approval and will be provided with an ethical clearance number together with other relevant information.  Applicants whose research ethics application was not approved will be sent an email outlining the reasons why the application was unsuccessful together with recommendations for revisions and resubmission.