Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Review process

Ethics review is a process whereby your research is reviewed by a team of reviewers and/or researchers in your (or a related) discipline to make sure that it conforms to a set of ethical standards. The ethics review is a process, which means that it takes time.

Therefore, be patient and leave yourself time (typically 2-3 months) from the time you submit for your study application to completion of the process; some ethically complex or sensitive studies have taken six months or more to get approval (although the average three months). The REC meets once every two months to conduct full reviews. The typical process is as follows:


  • Following the REC meeting the comments from REC members are collated and returned to the corresponding applicant, via email and hardcopy. We try to ensure that all letters are sent out within two weeks following a meeting.
  • Applications can receive ethical approval straight away, or the applicant/researcher may be requested to clarify some points for the REC or make some changes to the application in order to adhere to ethical guidelines.
  • Should clarifications be requested, a revised submission, consisting of the requested amended documentation and a cover letter responding point-by-point to the comments raised by the committee, should be sent via email to the convenor at The revised submission will then be considered as soon as possible (the timing determined by the number of applications received at the same time). Revised submissions do not (typically) need to be reviewed at a further REC meeting. This process usually takes around 2-3 weeks, depending on the suitability of the revisions.


Once comments by the REC have been adequately addressed, the convenor will contact the corresponding applicant notifying them in writing that approval has been granted and a formal letter (signed by the Convenor of the REC) will be sent to the corresponding applicant. If you have any further questions on the ethical process please send your query to