If it is necessary to conduct pilot work prior to commencement of your main experiment(s), consideration must be given to the ethical issues discussed in the documents below. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ascertain whether the conduct of a pilot study raises any ethical issues and, if so, a member of PEC should be approached for clarification and/or an application for ethical approval made using the standard form. For example, a study of emotional responses in adults may require the use of emotion arousing materials. In order to ascertain whether stimuli are effective, a pilot experiment is required in order to assess video materials containing potentially shocking scenes that would be used in the main experiment. In such a case, ethical approval for the pilot stage is necessary since the well-being of participants must be considered during and after the experiment. Another example requiring ethical review might concern the acquisition of pilot data for the purposes of a grant application, in which the investigator must conduct a substantial number of trials in order to demonstrate the validity of the proposed technique as a research tool.
Changes to Experiment Methodology & Procedures
If methodology or procedures to be carried out are altered, then you must consider the ethical issues raised by doing so. The supervisor is responsible for assessing the implications for participants. In certain cases it may not be necessary to seek further guidance on the matter, for example the use of an alternative depression inventory in a study of students prior to term exams. In the majority of cases where a revised procedure is planned, a modification form sent to the committee demonstrating ethical consideration will suffice. It is prudent to include supporting documentation, for example participants’ instructions on the use of a bite bar introduced to restrict head movements, or details of a different procedure to recruit volunteers in a study on the effects of alcohol consumption. Where a substantial revision of procedures or materials has been made, it is necessary re-apply for ethical approval: providing a clear indication of the changes made in relation to the original project (including the PEC number) will assist with the review.
Equipment Allocation & Room Booking
Members of staff (i.e. supervisors) can request equipment and room allocation from Jim Urquhart, in advance of data collection, in order to set up facilities required for the conduct of experiments and to test the feasibility of test paradigms. Please note that students must have received the Notification Sheet indicating ethical agreement if they are to request equipment or room allocation.