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Past event

Ethical Issues and Gaining Ethical Approval

Online registration has now closed. If you want to attend this event, please email for details of how to register onsite. 

Calling all researchers who work in Further Education and schools, educational publishing and assessment (including educational technology), or outside of HEIs as self-employed independent researchers (IRs)! This is a key event for you. It is an opportunity to help resolve an anomaly: the world of research lacks a system for IRs to gain ethical approval for research. This dilemma potentially affects the quality and range of research.

BERA is best known for its ethical guidelines and commitment to advancing research quality. Within HEIs, ethics panels regulate the quality of research and ethics. More generally, the increasing trend is for research proposals to be subject to robust scrutiny, ensuring best ethical practice.  Within BERA, and beyond, independent researchers increasingly find it difficult to access ethical approval for research proposals. IRF convenors are approached by IRs who express the problems they face and ask how BERA can help. Discussions at conference with BERA members and elsewhere have highlighted both the issue and the need for this event.

Linked to BERA’s strategic objectives this round-table event will involve BERA’s Executive Director, interested BERA members and others to present and explore the  issues. An IR will speak of her experiences of the challenges. Another speaker with broad experience of  ethical processes in HE will consider possible options and we will all work towards solutions!

To round off the event, an opportunity to share current research will inform planning a BERA blog about IR’s research.


10.30 Registration and refreshments
10.45 Welcome and introduction to the day
Dr Carrie Birch, Co-convenor IRF
11.00 Keynote speaker: The unique problems faced by IRs seeking ethical approval
Jocelyn Bailey

Ambition and Ethics: An Independent Researcher’s Dilemma
Dr William Wadsworth, independent researcher and entrepreneur

Keynote speaker: Options and possible solutions
Dr Alison Clark-Wilson

Experience and practice in health research: more options
Dr Sarah Hamilton, Research, Evaluation and Participation Manager at UNICEF UK

12.00 Small group discussions of dilemmas raised and possible resolutions offered in speaker contributions and discussion paper
12.45 Full group discussion to discover the range of perspectives on this issue and to outline and add to options for resolving dilemmas
13.15 Lunch
14.00 Taking it forward: round table discussion
Nick Johnson (Executive Director, BERA)

Agree actions to take forward

14.30 Refreshments break
14.45 Opportunities for IRs to talk informally about their current work, research and projects – next steps include possible BERA blog on IRs’ work
15.25 Completion of evaluation forms and suggestions for future events
15.30 Close of event