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Ethics Committee

We promote the ethical practice of psychology and are responsible for the Code of Ethics and Conduct and other ethical guidance.

About

We promote the ethical practice of psychology and are responsible for the Code of Ethics and Conduct and other ethical guidance.

The main responsibilities of the Ethics Committee are:

  • Promoting the ethical practice of psychology
  • Overseeing, monitoring, coordinating and communicating guidance from the Society on ethical matters to members and the public
  • Preparing new ethical guidance statements and modifying existing statements when deficiencies in the current guidance available from the Society become apparent
  • Developing mechanisms for providing ethical advice to members, the public and the media on professional practice
  • Considering the impact of ethical issues and guidance on training, education and continuing professional development, and communicating relevant information with institutions responsible for delivery in those areas
  • Assisting members in the consideration and resolution of ethical dilemmas
  • Monitoring decisions taken by the Member Conduct Officer and the Board of Trustees, incorporating outcomes of decisions on ethical issues into the Society’s ethical guidance
  • Maintaining awareness of ethical guidance statements from other psychological organisations in the UK, Europe, and internationally
  • Encouraging institutions in which psychologists work to establish their own multidisciplinary or other appropriate Ethics Committees, and supporting mechanisms to review proposals for research or other activities, enquiries and investigations – the Ethics Committee does not undertake such reviews of individual proposals itself
  • Actively promoting a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion within psychology, for example by monitoring diversity and equality issues which may have implications for the Society’s ethical guidance
  • Administering and overseeing the Award for the Promoting Equality of Opportunity

Download the Ethics Committee terms of reference

For any enquiries, please contact [email protected]

Activities

Meetings

14 November 2022

  • Time: 11am - 3.30pm
  • Location: via Zoom 
  • Deadline for agenda items: 14 October 2022

Minutes

Reports

Ethics Committee Brief Report - March 2021

Ethics Committee Webpage

In the interesting of increasing the visibility and transparency of the Committee, it agreed to publish biographies and photos of its members, as well as approved minutes and short reports.

Galton, Spearman and Eysenck

Psychology and its tainted history: the Committee discussed issues in relation to historical associations with Psychology, such as eugenics and whether this ought to be investigated further. It was agreed that it would be important to thoroughly scope out the potential project and identify dependencies and necessary resources. A sub-group of members agreed to produce such a scope for consideration at the next meeting.

Code of Human Research Ethics

The Committee approved the revised Code. This will be published in May 2021.

Presentations from the Defence and Security Psychology Section and the Political Psychology Section

Representatives from each section attended the meeting and gave a brief presentation on its focus and potential areas of mutual concern in relation to ethics considerations. The Committee is to consider this further at its next meeting in June.

Psychology and Climate and Environmental Crisis Steering Group

The Committee received and upgrade from the Steering Group and proposals for the formation of a Task and Finish Group on Health Impacts and a Task and Finish Group on Social, Organisational and Individual Change. The formation of these groups were approved and a call for statements of interest will be published in the next edition of The Psychologist

Human Rights Steering Group

The Committee received an update on the newly established Steering Group on Human Rights, chaired by Derek Indoe (BPS representative on the EFPA Board on Human Rights). The group is currently revising the Society’s position statement on Human Rights and will be working with the Practice Board and Education and Training Board on establishing Task and Finish Groups on Human Rights in Psychological Practice and Human Rights in Education.

Ethics Committee Brief Report - November 2020

Ethics advice around COVID-19

The Committee noted the guidance based on the Code of Ethics and Conduct and the Code of Human Research Ethics which is now published on the BPS website - https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/conducting-research-human-participants-during-covid-19

Proposed BPS Research Ethics Committee for Independent Practitioners

The Committee noted the guidance and signposting for independent practitioners/researchers regarding organisations that offer ethics approval which has now been published on the website.

Ethics FAQs

An extensive list of FAQs about ethics, research and practice queries was approved for publication on the Ethics guidance pages of the website. Ethics E-learning Update: the Committee received a report on the short on-line course that is being developed. It will be available to members and non-members. This will also include links to the newly developed ethics FAQs.

Psychology and Climate Crisis

The Committee receive the terms of reference, notes of the first meeting and an oral report from Tony Wainwright on the newly convened Climate and Environmental Crisis Steering Group.

Human Rights, Social Justice and Community Psychology

The Committee received an update on the newly established Steering Group on Human Rights, chaired by Derek Indoe (BPS representative on the EFPA Board on Human Rights). Its terms of reference are being finalised and will be considered at the next meeting of the Committee. Media Ethics Advisory Group – Terms of Reference: the Committee approved the revised terms of reference and received an update from John Oates on the valuable work of this group in supporting psychologists and programme makers. It was agreed that there is a need to broaden the membership of the MEAG and so a Society-wide call for statements of interest will be issued.

Duty of Candour

The Committee discussed at length concerns regarding the need for protection and support for assistant/trainee psychologists who may wish to whistle blow on professional misconduct/abuse or poor standards of care that they witness in their workplaces. It was noted that whilst this is an important area to be addressed, due to limitations on staff resources, it will be added to the Committee workplan to be picked up during 2021.

Ethics Committee Brief Report - June 2020

EC Work plan 2020-2021:

The Committee considered a draft workplan developed by the Chair. Priority Issues include: Guidelines, Equality and Inclusion, Queries and advice on membership, and the Code of Conduct for Members acting on behalf of the BPS and the Member Conduct Rules are to be reviewed. Three new issues were incorporated into the plan: Climate Crisis, Human Rights and Cyber Psychology.

Ethics advice around COVID-19

The Committee noted that some higher education institutions are providing guidance to staff regarding ethical considerations of conducting research during the pandemic. It was agreed that it was important that the BPS provides clear advice to its members. Draft guidance based on the Code of Ethics and Conduct and the Code of Human Research Ethics will be prepared as soon as possible.

Ethics E-learning Update

The Committee received a report on the short on-line course that is being developed. It is intended that the course will be fully interactive and last around 2 hours. It will be available to members and non-members.

Psychology and Climate Crisis

The Chair emphasised that the response by the BPS to COVID-19 has been excellent and timely. A similar approach must be taken on the climate crisis – especially as this is not a new issue. It was agreed that there is a need to set up a working group to examine the root causes rather than consequences. The Chair and the Director of Knowledge and Insight will work on the Terms of Reference for the group.

Terms of Reference

The Committee discussed the need to ensure greater links with the strategy boards was recognised and agreed that the terms of reference should be updated to ensure that the Boards are represented amongst the Committee membership. Some terminological inconsistencies were also noted and revised. The revised Terms of Reference will be referred to the September 2020 meeting of the Board of Trustees for consideration and ratification.

Proposed BPS Research Ethics Committee for Independent Practitioners

The Committee further discussed concerns raised from the Research Board regarding possible sources of ethics approval for research proposals for independent practitioners/researchers. It was agreed that clear guidance is needed. Clarification is also in relation to the needs for independent candidates completing BPS examinations. It was agreed to prepare guidance and signposting for independent practitioners/researchers regarding organisations that offer ethics approval. Further information will also be sought regarding BPS qualification candidates.

Media Ethics Advisory Group – Terms of Reference

The Committee discussed the need to update the Terms of Reference for MEAG. Revised terms of reference will be presented to the Committee for approval at its next meeting in October.

Human Rights, Social Justice and Community Psychology

A discussion session was held with experts from across the discipline invited to contribute. It was agreed to set up a Working Group on Human Rights jointly with the Practice Board and to include representation from the Education and Training Board to consider the scope and deliverables for this work. There was general agreement that the initial focus for the Group should be on human rights

Ethics Committee Brief Report - February 2020

Ethics Recruitment

The Committee were advised there is currently a vacancy for: a representative from the Division of Forensic Psychology, and a vacancy for a ‘Welfare of Animals in Psychology’ expert which will be appointed by the Research Board. It was agreed that the addition to the Committee of Experts by Experience (EBE’s) would be on a co –optee basis as deemed appropriate when the necessary experience was required.

Proposal for the Formation of a Research Ethics Committee Proposal for Independent Practitioners

The Committee discussed the proposal presented, and it was acknowledged ‘Ethical Approval’ had been a reoccurring issue for several years. It was agreed there was a distinct difference between offering ethical ‘advice’, ‘opinion’ or ‘approval.’ To offer ‘advice’ or to give an informed ‘opinion’ based on the Codes of Ethics would potentially not present a risk assuming the appropriate disclaimers were in place, however this would not satisfy the proposal presented. Further advice is being sought and this will remain an item for the Ethics Committee.

EFPA Update

The Chair advised that at the last EFPA meeting it was announced there would be a change in EFPA’s activities and reporting arrangements, with a greater focus on goals and deliverables rather than activities and processes, with a view to increasing visibility and impact.

Update on Media Ethics Advisory Group and the UK Research Integrity Office (UKROI)

The Committee were provided with an overview of the work completed by the Media Ethics Advisory Group (MEAG) by the Chair of the group, Professor John Oates. It was noted that this group has established good links with the Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television and with Ofcom. The Committee were also advised the revised Concordat to support Research Integrity is due to be published shortly. This policy document provides guidelines for carrying out robust, competent, ethical research and to ensure those engaged in research maintain the highest standards of rigour and integrity. The Concordat was developed with the assistance of UKRIO and included input from ‘The Russell Group. It was acknowledged that this was a long awaited set of ethical standards and guidelines.

Psychology and the Climate Emergency

Presentations were provided by Dr Tony Wainwright and Professor David Uzzell. During the discussions it was proposed that Dr Tony Wainwright drafts a short report on behalf of the Ethics Committee to the Board of Trustees recommending that it is an ethical imperative to make the Climate Emergency a priority.

Ethics Committee Strategy Update

The Committee agreed the three key themes to take forward as part of the Ethics Committee 2020-2021 strategy are: Psychology and the Climate Emergency, Cyber Psychology/Robot Psychology/Artificial Intelligence, the use of technology within psychology and Social Justice and Human Rights: Community Psychology and broader roles for psychologists.

Members

Chair - currently vacant

Role currently vacant.

Deputy Chair - Simon Goodson PhD CPsychol FBPsS

Simon Goodson is a Principal Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University leading on such initiatives as employability and partnerships. Simon is a member of the British Psychological Society Ethics Committee, contributor to BPS Code of Human Research Ethics and the BPS Ethics in Psychological Practice CPD course, he is also Chair of the Undergraduate Education Committee for the BPS. Current research activities include the effects of videogames on physiology and behaviour, and the understanding and application of ethical principles.

Simon has contributed to QAA Benchmark Statement reviews for Psychology and has been a past Chair of the North East of England Branch of the BPS and the Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers of Psychology and a member of the Research Board.

Dr Ailsa Niven

Dr Ailsa Niven is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh. Ailsa is also a BPS Chartered and HCPC registered Practitioner Psychologist (Sport and Exercise), and represents the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology on the Ethics Committee. At Edinburgh, Ailsa is the current College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Associate Dean for Research Ethics and Integrity, and has a particular interest in research ethics and their practical implementation. Ailsa has over twenty years’ experience of working in higher education.

Her most recent work focuses primarily on research and teaching UG and PG in the area of psychology of physical activity. Current research activities focus on psychological determinants and consequences of different types of physical activity, ranging from walking to high intensity interval exercise. Ailsa has also previously worked as an applied sport psychologist supporting athletes from school to international level. Ailsa works part-time, attempting to balance work and family life with a farmer husband and two lively tweenage daughters.

David Carpenter BA Philosophy, MA Medical Ethics and Medical Law, Independent consultant, trainer in research ethics

David Carpenter is a member of the British Psychological Society Ethics Committee, contributor to BPS Code of Human Research Ethics, contributor to BPS Code of Ethics, contributor to Research Ethics Support and Review with United Kingdom Integrity Office and ARMA. Chair, HRA South Central- Berkshire NHS Research Ethics Committee. Chair, Google DeepMind Human Behavioural Research Ethics Committee. View David's profile on Arma.  

Dr Matthew Davis

Dr Matthew Davis is an Associate Professor at Leeds University Business School, a Chartered Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. His research centres on how people interact with their work environments, the design of socio-technical systems and how businesses engage in CSR.

Matthew has worked on a range of applied research projects with corporate partners. Matthew is an Expert Member of the Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee, Chair of the Business, Environment & Social Sciences joint Faculty Research Ethics Committee (FREC) and a Member of the University of Leeds Research Ethics Committee (UREC).

Dr Philip Cox

Currently co-Vice Chair of the Division of Counselling Psychology and Vice Chair (past) of the Psychotherapy Section, Phil is a Chartered Psychologist (HCPC registered and BACP Snr Accred) with over 25 years of clinical experience.

His research publications, conference presentations and lectures focus on unintended harm within psychotherapy (iatrogenesis), and how to support professionals deemed to have upset the delicate balance between good and less helpful practice.

Phil is particularly interested in the ethical and philosophical tensions that can arise in clinical practise, professional regulation and conduct processes, and is a passionate advocate for social activism and supporting marginalised groups, which includes therapists and trainees who experience difficulties.

His philosophy is that by supporting therapists we support clients. To support this, Phil advises the Psychotherapy & Counselling Union on professional complaints.

Rachael Goodwin, BA (Hons), MPhil, MEd, MBPSsS

Rachel Goodwin is a Graduate Member of the BPS and the Division of Counselling Psychology. She is a Counselling Psychologist in Professional Training on the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at the University of Manchester, where she has gained experience of ethics in clinical practice and human research. Rachael sits on the BPS Member Board, the North West Division of Counselling Psychology Committee, and is also a Trustee of Samaritans Manchester and Salford.

Katherine Carpenter BA Hons, Dip Psych, C Psychol, FBPsS

Katherine Carpenter is a Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, Chair of the BPS Division of Neuropsychology 2016-2022; Deputy Chair of BPS Practice Board 2020-. Previously Clinical Director for Specialist Surgery and Neurosciences, Lead for Psychological Services and Co-Director of Psychological Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Specialist interests in epilepsy surgery, deep brain stimulation and neuro-oncology. Experience of medical ethical decision-making in the Neurosciences.

John Oates HonFBPsS, FRSA, FAcSS, Professor of Developmental Psychology, Open University

John Oates is a member of the British Psychological Society Ethics Committee and Research Ethics Reference Group, lead for BPS Code of Human Research Ethics, Media Ethics Advisory Group and BPS guidelines Psychology in Media Productions. Established Open University Research Ethics Committee, chairing it for seven years, and was Council Trustee of the Association for Research Ethics. Lead for Research Ethics Support and Review with United Kingdom Integrity Office and ARMA.

With colleagues from the Academy of Social Sciences Research Ethics Group of Fellows, co-organised a symposia and conferences series with UK learned societies towards universal ethics principles now adopted by the Academy. Member of the Economic and Social Research Council ethics advisory group for the Framework for Research Ethics launched in 2016. Advisor to the United Kingdom Research Integrity Office, ethics reviewer for the European Research Council. Collaborator in H2020 PRO-RES project.

Dr Jasmine Hearn

Dr Jasmine Hearn is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, a Chartered Psychologist, and member of the Division of Health Psychology within the British Psychological Society. Jasmine currently teaches health psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, and supervises MSc and PhD research. Her primary area of research interest is in pain after spinal cord injuries (SCI) and developing ways to help people to communicate and live well with pain.

She has conducted research in this field to examine how people with SCI experience pain, and to explore the efficacy of mindfulness training for people with SCI and chronic pain, and for their partner caregivers. Jasmine works with national and international organisations in her commitment to improving the lives of people with SCI. Jasmine is a scientific committee member for the European Spinal Psychologists Association, whose aim is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge of psychology and its role in health after SCI.

In 2014, her PhD research was awarded ‘Best Research by an Early Career Researcher’ in Psychology and Social Work at The Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals Conference and Expo in St. Louis. Jasmine’s other areas of interest include pain in other long-term conditions, such as endometriosis, and metaphorical communication of pain.

Tony Wainwright

Tony Wainwright is a clinical psychologist and a senior academic tutor on the Exeter Clinical Psychology Doctorate, where he teaches on leadership and public policy as well as ethical competence. Over the past few years Tony been a member of and has chaired the BPS Ethics Committee and has represented the BPS on the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations’ (EFPA) Board of Ethics, the EFPA Board Human Rights and Psychology, and convened the EFPA Board of Prevention and Intervention.

In 2019 he won the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations’ Robert A Roe award that is given for making 'an outstanding contribution to bringing psychologists from all over Europe together, either from a scientific, professional, practical, or policy-making perspective' and you can download a recording of his award lecture where he describes his national and international work.

In these various roles he has dealt with questions concerning the ethics of climate change, and the fall out of the pandemic, racism and oppression, taking forward policy and practice issues in a psychological framework. Tony is delighted to see that the BPS has been developing a stronger advocacy orientation, to engage with public policy in a local and global capacity, to further this urgent international agenda.

Tony currently chairs the BPS Steering Group on the Climate and Environmental Crisis and is a member of the Steering Group on Psychology and Human Rights and reports on their work to the Ethics Committee.

Julie Freeborn

Julie Freeborn is a Chartered and Registered Occupational Psychologist, and Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She currently works in psychological wellbeing for the BBC.

Previously she has worked in both public and private sectors on employee wellbeing, inclusion, culture, leadership development and assessment and selection.

She has contributed to a number of volunteer committees and Boards for the BPS including the Professional Practice Board, the Division of Occupational Psychology and North East of England Branch.

She is currently chairing a cross-divisional Task and Finish Group on Neurodiversity/SpLD. Julie has been a member of the Ethics Committee since 2019.