Research at the University of Leeds is conducted according to the principles of academic excellence, community, integrity, inclusiveness and professionalism. These principles encourage you to consider the wider consequences of your research, and engage with the practical, ethical and intellectual challenges inherent in high-quality research.
The University is a supporter of the UUK Concordat to Support Research Integrity This means we all have a commitment to:
uphold the highest standards of rigor and integrity in all aspects of research
ensure that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards
support a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers
use transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise
work together to strengthen the integrity of research
Research Ethics and Research Integrity
As you conduct your research, you are likely to need to directly engage with real-world issues, materials and participants. A key tool by which this engagement is managed and supported is through research ethics awareness and training.
The purpose of ethical review is not to discourage controversial or high-risk research, but to provide constructive feedback on your project. Taking an ethical approach to your research should not be a barrier to your project. It will help you to show that you recognise any potential risks involved and are aware of any necessary preparation and management that you are responsible for.
In all disciplines, the ethical aspects of your research should be discussed with your supervisor as part of your research design and management process. It is your responsibility to obtain ethical review before starting your research, should it be required.
To help support you in considering the ethics around your research project and complete the ethical review process, please enrol on the dedicated online training in Research Integrity and Research Ethics. You can find out more information about these tutorials on the Postgraduate Research Academic Integrity, Research Integrity and Research Ethics page of the For Students site.
Ethical issues in research
Some key ethical issues in research include:
balancing potential risks and benefits to the participants (humans, animals or the environment) and the researcher(s)
dealing with sensitive topics, information or materials
looking after personal data
avoiding coercion and being mindful of power imbalances
conflicts of interest
Infringement of privacy- anonymity and confidentiality
Ethical review process
To manage and support research ethics, the University undertakes a structured and rigorous ethical review process.
The ethical review process can take at least six weeks, so it is important that you allow enough time for this when planning your research.
Discuss your application for ethical review with your supervisor and ask them to check and sign your application form before it is submitted. The application form must be signed by both you and your supervisor; any forms submitted without both signatures will result in a further delay to the process. Handwritten applications will not be accepted.
Your awareness of the ethical implications of your research and that you have sought ethical approval will be checked at the training needs analysis stage, at the transfer stage, and at examination entry. The examiners of your thesis may ask for access to the full ethical review paperwork considered by the Faculty Research Ethics Committee. Failure to seek appropriate ethical approval through the review process could have implications for the award of your research degree.
Certain projects, such as those involving NHS patients or clinical trials, will require special ethical review processes. Make sure that you discuss ethical review with your supervisor.
Further information about the ethical review process, including the application form for University review, can be found on the Research Ethics and Integrity webpages.
Data Management Plans
A data management plan (DMP) describes how you will collect, organise, analyse, preserve and share data.
What is ‘research data’?
All researchers create data in some form and you are likely to generate a significant amount of data during your research degree. Research data can come in many shapes and sizes depending on what type of research you are conducting. The term research data is used broadly and refers to a range of materials that you will use, generate and analyse during your research. Examples include:
Photographs, audio, video recordings and films
Musical performances and sketches in sketchbooks
Models, algorithms and scripts
Numerical data, generated from experiments, recorded in laboratory notebooks
Fieldnotes, questionnaires and interview transcripts
Specimens and samples
Write and update a data management plan
A data management plan (DMP) will help you to identify and describe your data and ensure that you are handling, storing and sharing the data appropriately.
It is a University requirement that you have a data management plan for your research project by the time you reach transfer and that you review and update the plan as your research progresses.
The University has a Data Management Plan (DMP) template which you may find helpful – but you can use any format or template which is useful to you. A DMP helps you to look after your data from the beginning to the end of the research project – and beyond. You should discuss your data management plan with your supervisor. The University’s research data management expectations are outlined in the University of Leeds Research Data Management Policy. Information and advice to help you organise and manage your research data and write your plan is available on the University Library website.
Assess whether your data is sensitive
Assess all your material to decide how sensitive it is as this will impact how it must be handled and stored and whether it can be shared. It is important to read the University’s Information Protection Policy. All researchers should read the University’s pages on data protection and handling personal and research data. There is helpful information about safeguarding data on the University Library website.
Store data appropriately
Make sure you know what University storage is available to you and think about the most appropriate place to store your data and consider whether encryption is needed. Check information from IT Services about keeping data safe, including what to consider when working on a laptop or when generating data outside the University.
Will you share your data?
Many, research funders encourage data sharing beyond the original project where this is appropriate. You should address data sharing both during and after your research in your Data Management Plan.
It is important that your consent wording, any participant information and any agreements with project partners are consistent with how you plan to use the data, including sharing with others.
Research data and associated materials are often made available to other researchers through deposit in a trusted online data repository. The University’s Research Data Leeds repository can be used to share open research data generated by Leeds researchers. The Library also manages a repository service for controlled access datasets called RADAR which may be appropriate for data that can be shared but has some sensitivity.
You may wish to share supplementary data associated with your thesis, or share data for a conference presentation, or an exhibition or data that underpins a journal article. Deciding what material to share and how to share it can be complex. If you need advice on sharing material related to your thesis, it is a good idea to seek help sooner rather than later. You can contact the Research Data Team in the Library on email@example.com.
Research data management training
The Library Research Data Management website is a useful source of information. The Library Research Data Management Team provide a regular training session on Research Data Management Essentials and a more detailed course on Safeguarding Confidential, Sensitive and Restricted Data. See the Library workshops for researchers page
Academic Integrity reflects a commitment to good study practices and shared values. It ensures your work is a true expression of your personal understanding and original ideas, while giving credit to others for their contributions.
As part of your induction you will be required to complete an online Academic Integrity tutorial and test. The online, interactive tutorial and test is designed to give you an overview of academic integrity, and what good academic practice means during your research degree at Leeds, at the end there will be a test to check your understanding. You can find out more on the Postgraduate Research Academic Integrity, Research Integrity and Research Ethics page of the For Students site.
At the University of Leeds, you are part of an academic community that shares ideas and develops new ones.
As part of this, you need to position your research in the context of research by others. Academic integrity is about making sure you do this correctly and acknowledge the work of others, thereby avoiding plagiarism.
The University library website offers a wealth of information about academic integrity and how to avoid plagiarism, which is relevant to your practice as a postgraduate researcher.
What is plagiarism?
The University defines plagiarism as:
“Presenting someone else’s work, in whole or in part, as your own. Work means any intellectual output, and typically includes text, data, images, sound or performance"
Importantly, plagiarism covers all work that you will produce. In extreme cases, this may take the form of submitting a thesis, a transfer report or other written or practical work, significant parts of which are simply copied from the work of another. It remains a serious matter even where it relates to minor elements and has been caused by poor standards of scholarship rather than intentional cheating.
The University takes cases of plagiarism very seriously. Cases of plagiarism can ultimately lead to you being withdrawn from your research degree study. Where there is suspicion of plagiarism, the process steps are detailed in the University's policy Investigating Plagiarism in Research Work.
In cases of suspected plagiarism, you may seek independent advice and support from the Leeds University Union Student Advice Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a postgraduate researcher, you will have the potential to make discoveries that could have real benefits to business and society. This value, and your relationship to it, are covered by the University’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policy.
IP may be regarded as 'knowledge and its creative application’.
The policy sets out the University’s position regarding the ownership of intellectual property (IP) developed by staff, students [including postgraduate researchers] and certain others, together with the procedures in place for commercialisation of University-owned IP. It covers all University related activities, including research and innovation and student education.
These points illustrate what IP can mean and how it can relate to your work as a postgraduate researcher.
where the IP you generate is as part of an activity where a third party requires ownership, such as if you produce work as part of a placement or where research is sponsored and the sponsor requires ownership
you generate IP that builds upon existing IP generated by University staff
you generate IP jointly with University staff
you are recruited on a specific understanding that, due to the sensitivity of the environment, your IP position is different.
Each of these instances is covered in Section 7 of the University’s IP Policy.
What copyright means and how it applies to your work as a postgraduate researcher can be confusing.
You might hear terms like ‘fair use’ in reference to not seeking permission from copyright holders and have seen large portions of other people’s work presented in lectures. You also might wonder why copyright is even an issue when you are using material for educational purposes.
Fair use is acceptable in certain cases, such as using material for private research or study. However, your thesis has the potential for far-reaching impact, so copyright is an important consideration. With that in mind, copyright should not be seen as a barrier to including material.
When you submit your work, you also publish an eThesis (electronic thesis) online in the White Rose eThesis repository. As this is a form of electronic publication, you can only include material in your eThesis that you have copyright approval for or that you have permission from the copyright holder to use. Guidance on eThesis submission is available at the Submitting your Final eThesis page.
There are several benefits of publishing your thesis in the White Rose repository:
your thesis is more likely to be widely read
theses are immediately available and readily searchable
the worldwide visibility of UK higher education research is increased
underused primary research is made available
your profile as a researcher, and the profile of your institution and individual schools may be raised
eThesis submissions can help you meet the requirements of your funding body (for example, research councils). For more information, please see the Guide to the thesis examination process. You can find this on the Policies and Procedures page of the Student Education Service (SES) website.
What material might you use?
You might include diagrams or charts created by other scholars to visualise ideas
You might analyse data sets produced by other researchers
You may critique artwork or photographs created by others
Structuring your thesis
Before you begin, remember that your thesis must be in a format suitable for electronic publication.
Below is a short checklist based upon experience gained from scenarios that have arisen since an eThesis approach was brought into the University.
Consider copyright from the beginning of your research.
Keep records of any materials you may want to use as you find them, including images and information found online. Also include where and when you found them.
Investigate how copyright might affect how you structure your thesis, for example, will redacting (removing or obscuring) copyright material impact on how it is understood?
Seek permission from the copyright holder early on to include copyright material in the electronic version of your thesis.
You will need to contact the copyright holder and request permission to include the material in your ethesis. But in some cases, it may not be possible to gain permission. This could be because permission is declined, you do not receive a response or because there is an expensive fee to use copyright material.
This means that you may not be able to make the full text of your awarded ethesis available online and you may need to submit a redacted eThesis.
Visit the Library website copyright pages for further advice.
You can find information on:
when you need to seek permission from the copyright holder
how you can use third party content in your thesis
information about copyright relating to publishing material from your thesis
licensing your thesis for others to use and protecting your rights as the author
letter templates for requesting permission from the copyright holder.
White Rose E-theses online
All PGRs are required to upload their final, examined thesis to our e-theses repository, White Rose E-theses Online (WREO), as a single PDF file.
Any additional content that is examined (for example video files, web pages) should also be uploaded to WREO. This must be the version that has been approved by the internal examiner, and it will have had any corrections or editorial amendments incorporated within it. Any embargo period that is to be applied has to be agreed with your supervisor, bearing in mind any maximum embargo lengths that may be permitted by your funder.
You can find more information about how to upload your thesis to WREO on the Library website.
If you have any queries during the upload process, or need advice on file types, please email email@example.com
Further information on thesis submission can also be found on the Submitting your final ethesis page of the For Students website.
If your thesis is eligible for submission under the protocol which allows for published material to be submitted alongside a written commentary, please refer to the Faculty Protocols for the format and presentation of an alternative style of doctoral thesis including published material for further guidance.
If your thesis is to be considered for the practice-led route (specific to the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Cultures), then please refer to the guidance and note that discussions need to start from the outset of your studies.
Any queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
An ORCID ID is a digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher. Having a unique identifier ensures that the data about you and your body of work is accurate and correctly linked to your researcher profile. It also improves the visibility of the research.
It is important you register for an ORCID identifier. There are two possible ways you can do this:
Symplectic (University publications database) – go to “My Actions”, select “Add ORCiD” and register your details.
For more information on the uses and benefits of ORCID, please see the Increase research visibility page of the Researcher Support website
Health and Safety
Wherever you are working in the University there will be Health and Safety requirements which you need to be aware of and follow on a day-to-day basis. Your local induction should cover these and where to find more information. You may also find procedures, processes, risk assessments and training requirements depending on the area you are based in.
To ensure you have the correct information about Health and Safety in research you should complete the Safety in Research induction for postgraduate researchers.
You may also be required to complete a local health and safety induction before you can undertake your research. For instance, if you will be working in laboratories and/or other types of research facilities. You will receive further information from your Graduate School.
Travel and Fieldwork
PGRs travelling overseas or organising fieldwork need to use the risk assessment processes in place in their school or faculty to minimise risk and ensure that as a University we fulfil our duty of care to protect staff, PGRs and other affected people.
Wellbeing, Safety and Health Services set out what the University requires of staff and PGRs in respect of travel and/or fieldwork health and safety considerations, along with guidance to help achieve this. For further information, please see the Fieldwork page of the Wellbeing, Safety and Health website.
For information about local arrangements for travel; including risk assessments, please contact your Graduate School.
Advice on health and safety issues relating to pregnant students may be sought from a School/Faculty Health and Safety Coordinator or Health and Safety Manager and/or University Health and Safety Services. Please see the Policy on support for pregnant students and students with very young children on the Equality and Inclusion Unit webpages. to view the Health and Safety risk assessment guidance and the Risk Assessment template.
If you are a disabled student and have any questions relating to Health and Safety and your disability, please contact your School/Faculty Health and Safety Coordinator or Health and Safety Manager and Disability Services.
If you are engaged in a formal placement in conjunction with another organisation then it is necessary for a formal agreement to be in place to ensure you remain healthy and safe. Contact your Graduate School if you will be undertaking a placement
Within the University there are many reasons why people may need to work alone eg working out of normal hours when there are fewer people around, or being in a remote location. It’s important to think about how to keep lone workers safe. For more information see the Lone Working page on the Wellbeing, Safety and Health website.
You should also download the Safezone app which has a check in timer. You can use this to share your location with the Security team if it would help you to feel more comfortable, for example if you are working alone in a building.