Faculty Human Research Ethics Committee (FHREC)

Ethical Review for Taught Postgraduate students (TPg)*

What is the FHREC?

The FHREC consists of representatives from all FEHD departments.  It ensures that the design of all research by Taught Postgraduate students complies with the university’s requirements for the ethical conduct of research. 


Who should apply for FHREC Review?

Taught Postgraduate students doing research with human participants and/or human data, including data collected for a previous project, must submit an ethical review application, irrespective of whether the research is funded or unfunded.  Ethical approval must be obtained before the commencement of data collection.


Documents required for ethical review

  • Completed application form
    The form has to be endorsed by the supervisor and submitted to FHREC via email at fhrec@eduhk.hk, together with all required documents listed below.

  • Research proposal;
    The suggested length is around 800 words in English.

  • Consent forms and information sheets for potential research participants [see details below];

  • Consent form/invitation letter/approval letter for data collection site (e.g. school, hospital, NGO) (if applicable);

  • Interview Script (if applicable);

  • Data collection form, including questionnaire (if applicable).

  • From submission to approval, it will normally take 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the extent to which the application form is properly completed and all required documents are attached.


Common Problems

Missing document(s):
  • For studies involving interviews and/or surveys, a sample (draft) interview script/ protocols/ data collection form and/or questionnaire should be submitted for consideration. If the full/ final version is not available, please provide examples of questions that will be asked.

  • For studies involving data collection/ research sites, an informed consent form (with information sheet)/ invitation letter for the research site (e.g. school) should be used and submitted for consideration unless justification is provided.

Consent form and information sheet:
  • Avoid inconsistent information between ethical review documentation and the research proposal, or between the bilingual forms.

  • Simple language should be used. Jargon or research terms, which the person signing the form may not understand, should be avoided.  

Confidentiality and Storage of Data:

  • Researchers should make every effort to protect the confidentiality of research data. Researchers should under no circumstances publicly disclose information obtained in the research project that would identify any specific person or organization (except with the participants' written consent).

  • Researchers should outline to prospective research participants the purpose of the collection of personal data and what methods the researcher would adopt to ensure confidentiality.

  • When the researcher collects sensitive human data and/or personal information about participants, the researcher should specify the precautions relating to the storage, use, and disposition of the materials. For example, data will be kept in locked files and only the researcher(s) will have access to them; data subjects will be identified by a code and therefore their personal identities will not be disclosed easily.


Consent forms and information sheets

Consent forms and information sheets should provide research participants with sufficient and clear information that allows them to make informed consent to participate in the study.  You may follow the suggested consent form and information sheet format here.

The following information should be included:

  • Name and contact information of the researcher;

  • Title and aims of the project;

  • Description of how many participants will be included and how they will be contacted/ recruited;

  • Reason(s) for choosing that particular person/ group of participants (if applicable);

  • Description of what participants will be asked to do and the time commitment required from the participants;

  • Potential risks (if any) to the participants (e.g. discomforts, inconveniences expected) and how the risks will be minimized;

  • Potential benefits coming from the research (may be specific to the individual or to the knowledge base of the field of study);

  • Statement that participation is voluntary;

  • Statement that participants have a right to refuse to participate or may withdraw at any time without negative consequences;

  • Statement of how confidentiality/ anonymity/ privacy will be ensured;

  • Description of how results will be disseminated.


Sep 2017

*Abstracted and modified from Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), The Education University of Hong Kong


The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

Please read The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity here.


Criteria for Authorship: Principles, Policy and Practice in FEHD

FEHD follows the international criteria for research authorship established by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). The same criteria are used by major academic societies, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), publishers, such as Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and national policies on Academic Research Conduct and Misconduct in countries such as England, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

Who can be listed as an author? 

Only individuals who meet the following four criteria are entitled to be listed as an author of any publication, regardless of its form or where and how it is distributed.

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

(see http://www.icmje.org)


Who should be listed as a contributor to a publication?

Anyone who does not meet all the criteria for authorship but contributed to the research should be listed as a contributor and their role specified. This might include an RA who drafted the paper and/or collected or analyzed data but not the conceptualization or design of the publication, or final review of the publication, or responsibility and accountability for the accuracy and integrity of the publication.

What is unacceptable authorship? 

Three types of authorship are considered unacceptable and a breach of the international guidelines for authorship: 

  • "Ghost" authors, who contribute substantially but are not acknowledged; 
  • "Guest" authors, who make no discernible contributions, but are listed to help increase the chances of publication;
  • "Gift" authors, whose contribution is based on a tenuous affiliation with a study
What is the corresponding author? 

The ICMJE guidelines specify the role/work of the corresponding author as primarily administrative (see below) but must also meet the four criteria for authorship.

The corresponding author is the one individual who takes primary responsibility for communication with the journal during the manuscript submission, peer review, and publication process, and typically ensures that all the journal’s administrative requirements, such as providing details of authorship, ethics committee approval, clinical trial registration documentation, and gathering conflict of interest forms and statements, are properly completed, although these duties may be delegated to one or more coauthors. The corresponding author should be available throughout the submission and peer review process to respond to editorial queries in a timely way, and should be available after publication to respond to critiques of the work and cooperate with any requests from the journal for data or additional information should questions about the paper arise after publication.

(see http://www.icmje.org)