The University of Lincoln can trace its roots back to 1861 and has become one of the most well-regarded Universities in the UK – rising 60 places in the past four years! More than half of its submitted research was rated as “internationally excellent or world-leading” in the UK’s most recent nationwide assessment of university research standards – the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Despite its strong research focus, until recently, the University of Lincoln relied on paper-based systems and had different approaches to ethical review across the different Colleges.

The University Research Ethics Committee and the DVC Research and Innovation chose Ethics RM because the application forms and workflows could be configured and adapted to Lincoln’s needs. 

The new system provides central oversight and greatly reduces administrative burden. All staff and postgraduate research student applications are handled through Ethics RM.

Undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are still paper-based and handled at school level – though these are starting to be migrated across, with the first cohorts/courses moving this academic year.

Implementation…

As part of the implementation process, Lincoln revised its ethics policy and overhauled the entire process, including workflows and the application questions – so this took time. However, this did have advantages in terms of setting up Ethics RM –

“…building everything from a blank page meant I didn’t need to make the system fit existing processes.

“I have found working with Infonetica very easy and have had any questions resolved – they are also open to suggestions for upgrades to the system. Infonetica’s helpdesk system, Jira, is very easy to use.”

Sam Lewis – Research Governance Manager, University of Lincoln

The University piloted the system with a small cohort of staff for one month, then launched with all staff and postgraduate research students.

Feedback…

The more staff and students have used Ethics RM, the more they appreciate how easy is it to use. The reviewers have commented that it makes their reviews much more focussed and quicker as they don’t have to return applications due to missing documents or answers. Under the old system, reviewers often received incomplete applications, so this is a real bonus.

Applicants like how the questions populate dependent on their research, so that they only see questions that are required.

Administrators find it much easier to use too. Letters and emails are system generated, and there is no separate need to prepare logs or reports as these can be pulled from the system.

As a reviewer, I like the way the system allows you to see other reviewers’ comments, so duplication can be avoided. The system is also flexible – it can be tweaked and refined in response to feedback from users.

Ethics reviewer, University of Lincoln