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Social Science & Public Policy, Arts & Humanities, Law, KLI

Code of conduct for serendipitous research

The protocol allows staff members, PhD researchers and Taught Masters who encounter a research opportunity which they could not have anticipated (ie meeting a particular expert at a conference) to use data collected in the encounter within research. The protocol may only be used by staff, PhD and Taught Masters students who belong to the Faculities/Institutes that fall within the remit of the SSHL RESC and is intended for situations presenting minimal risks to participants who would not be considered vulnerable.

Researchers should ‘sign up’ to the code using the code of conduct for serendipitous research opportunities form and email to confirm this before they use it to ensure they are aware of the provisions. Note that we do not require that the form is submitted to us, however a signed and dated copy of the form should be retained by the researcher.

Researchers must also follow up with a second email to after conducting research under the code, giving the following brief details:

  1. The nature of the research you conducted
  2. When you conducted it
  3. Why this research could not have been anticipated.

Please note that any new research opportunity which develops from this unanticipated contact would be expected to be submitted for formal ethical review in the normal way.

This code of conduct is in a pilot phase and we welcome your comments and feedback. Please email any comments to

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