Ethics for Computational Research

Links to videos and resources from a series of workshops organised by N8 CIR exploring ethics in computational research.


During October and November 2021 N8 CIR organised a series of seminars exploring ethics in computational research. Slides and videos from these sessions will be shared here as soon as they are available.

Introduction to Ethics

The first session explored and explained key ethical concepts as they may apply to computational research. It was led by Niall O'Loughlin and Catherine Brewer, both of Durham University.

Niall O'Loughlin is head of Durham University's Research Policy Team, who are responsible for the review, development and implementation of all of the policies and processes that underpin the university's research innovation activities. Catherine Brewer is a Research Policy Officer in Research and Innovation Services at Durham University. The session also featured contributions from David Cull A Senior Information Governance Officer and Kristina Holt, Data Protection Officer and Head of Information Governance.

  • Overview of governance, including Trusted Research, data protection and open data
  • Use of sensitive and health data with particular focus on use in external systems
  • Use of large publicly available data sets: social media, censuses, etc. including issues of internet-mediated research, GDPR concerns - processing, combining and identifying, sharing and publishing.

NHS and Social Care Data

The session was led by David Carpenter, Chair of the HRA South Central-Berkshire NHS Research Ethics Committee. David is also a trainer in research ethics.

Working with health (and social care) data raises numerous ethical issues; most people assume their medical records to be absolutely confidential and any suggestion of wider sharing is met with a degree of hostility. The real landscape includes several shades of grey.

There are probably three ‘levels’ of data:

  • Publicly accessible data which can be found through simple searches.
  • Regulated data which will require formal application processes and assurance of compliance - typically with the ethics framework governing the distribution and use of the data.
  • Data gained through original research - this will normally entail following NHS processes if the data are to be obtained via NHS patients, their relatives or carers. Broader, original health data can be collected through non-NHS channels - this might well be via social media or with the assistance of various support groups and charitable organisations
The session covered key legal, ethical and administrative aspects of working with health and social care data as well as wider issues such as consent. It should be of wider interest beyond health and social care.


Introduction to Ethics

Health and Social Care Data

Alternatively you can follow this link to see the videos:

  • Introduction to Ethics -
  • Health and Social Care Data -

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