Ethics complains


Hi All,

I'm in my third year of a PhD, which has involved making 6 ethics application. Each one has taken a long, long time to get returned to me for approval/changes. The university have differing guidance depending on where you look (a sign of how inconsistent/disorganised they are...) but guarantee a four week turnaround for PhD projects. I have a current application which has been awaiting review since June, and every time I chase it up they just extend the due date. I have had other applications which have taken months, and then if they've needed amending, another few months to have those approved.

So - I wanted to hear about whether anyone has made any official complaints or raised issues with their ethics boards? I've raised it with supervisors but there isn't much else they can do for me except add a bit more weight behind my concerns. There doesn't seem to be any official avenues at my University in which to go down to get it sorted.

Thank you!


Do you really think it's wise to make an official complaint? If there are organizational issues that can be sorted, that's one thing e.g. how often the ethics committees meet. You'll probably find that the issue is resources. Research ethics is not always taken seriously by university leadership.

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Don't make an official complaint, causes too much trouble and people usually get very defensive. Rarely hear of good stories about complaints in universities.

It is summer and for all you know the committee might be having issues due to half the university being on holiday. If there is a head, drop a casual email asking politely about it being longer than 4 weeks, delaying you PhD. Then say as it is not your fault for the delays that you want an extension on your PhD because of them not following their own rules. Might work.