Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university – a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management. Its disciplines cover aerospace, agrifood, defence and security, energy, environment technology, leadership and management, manufacturing, and transport systems.

Research ethics is an extremely important topic to Cranfield University because of its research-intensive nature. However, Cranfield’s diverse disciplines make research ethics a particularly complex issue.

Cranfield University’s process flow

Before adopting Ethics RM, Cranfield had three separate ethics review processes covering its varied disciplines. It recognised that a streamlined and unified system would support consistency in its approach to ethics.

Two of the previous ethics processes were entirely paper-based, while the other was online using a system developed in-house. Over time, the system’s administrator functionality became extremely time consuming and it was obvious that it was unsustainable.

After a rigorous selection process, Ethics RM was chosen – not only because of the wide range of processes that the system could easily handle, but its flexibility made it relatively quick to set up, even with Cranfield’s complex process flows.

“The most time-consuming part of setting up the system was getting the academic staff to agree on the wording of the questions that applicants needed to answer,” explained Cranfield’s Brenda Roshier, Project Manager for the introduction of the system.

“Both reviewers and applicants find Ethics RM highly intuitive,” according to Andrew Kirchner, who was brought in to set up the system.

“The system does what we want. Our biggest challenge is finding enough staff to act as reviewers, as we are asking all masters and doctoral level research projects to go through the system.”

Cranfield currently has applications based on four levels of risk and plans to introduce an additional level for human research that only requires a light touch consent approach. Andrew continued:

Changes like this are easy to make in-house using Ethics RM’s customisable workflow.”

With a partner like Infonetica, we feel confident about being able to make changes in the system and test them fully prior to going live.”