The University of Plymouth is predominantly located on the South Coast of England, though it has affiliated colleges and campuses throughout the South West of the country. It was originally founded in 1862. In a typical year, it handles 350 to 400 low- to high-risk ethics applications.

The pre-existing ethics review system relied on a mixture of paper and emails with Excel spreadsheet and Access databases to capture information. Each of the three Faculties (with various ethics Committees and Sub committees) operated using slightly different systems/processes.

For ethics applications requiring internal review only, the speed of submitting the application was very much dependent on the experience of the applicant completing a word document and the review process from submission of application to approval usually took approximately four to six weeks, depending on the complexity.

Ethics applications requiring external review, through the Health Research Authority (HRA) for example, would undergo a four stage process; Sponsor team review (Central Research and Innovation), HRA review and approval, followed by Faculty approval and back to the Sponsor team to greenlight the study to start.

In looking for a new ethics review system, the University wanted something that could accommodate its process flow, across three faculties and deliver significantly streamlined administration. Apart from efficiency and time saving, the new system requirements needed to provide a single repository for all review documentation as well as to assure full GDPR compliance.

The Ethics Review Manager configuration was tailored to accommodate all of these requirements, as well as Human Tissue Authority and Health Research Authority applications, thus providing connectivity between all of the Faculties, the Sponsor team and the Human Tissue experts and enabling the smoother passage of ethics applications, regardless of which ethics review path is needed.

“Working with Infonetica was great. My two main contacts were fantastic and so knowledgeable. They have always been at the end of the phone when I needed help.”

Alison Bendall – Research Information Officer, Research & Innovation

The University’s ethics review system went live on 20th April 2020 and is being used by Staff, Taught Masters and Postgraduate Research Students. Although early days, the feedback from applicants has been very positive. They have found the software to be intuitive and easy to use. The University are now considering if they could extend the system to undergraduates accompanied by a simplified form.