Introduction to Abstract, Poster & Workshop Submissions

We are delighted to invite you to submit an abstract and attend the Research Ethics Conference at St Luke’s campus, the University of Exeter on Friday 25th June 2021. 

Ethics has never been as important as it is now. The world we live in is changing at a dramatic pace and we must maintain rigorous and critical ethical practices of the research journey, across all disciplines throughout STEM and HASS. But what exactly is ethics and what does it mean to conduct ethical research? 


While academic and other organisations have ethics committees and processes in place, there is often little space or time in institutions to discuss what ethics means in practice, how our understanding of ethics varies across disciplines, and how practices change and develop over time.  Research ethics can sometimes run the danger of being misinterpreted, underplayed or merely viewed as a ‘tick box’ exercise.  Academics can also find themselves 'playing catch-up' due to the rapid progress of research and new methodologies and discoveries that we have to regulate for the first time.


We invite academics as well as local stakeholders who have an interest in research ethics to share knowledge and best practice to help raise understanding of the importance of research and practical ethics. This conference will provide an opportunity for presenters from across all disciplines to share their findings collected through ethical practices, as well as any ethical dilemmas that arise from conducting primary data collection or the interpretation of statistics and other secondary data.

Below you will find further information on abstracts, posters and workshops.

REC2021 Conference Theme

Because we want to encourage innovation, exploration, and breaking down boundaries, the Research Ethics Conference organising committee deliberately opted not to select a conference theme. 


However, we do want to give contributors and attendees an idea of what they will learn by engaging with the event. Obviously, exact learning outcomes will differ according to each participant’s unique session schedule, but the following list provides a summary of the topics that we are encouraging our presenters to cover:


  • Making decisions about projects – e.g.,

    • What happens when the project is long-term and needs to adapt to changing conditions over time?

    • How do you ethically make quick decisions in the moment?

  • How ethics are determined – e.g.,

    • Where and how do we learn ethics?

    • Why, and in what ways, do ethics change over time?

    • Can (and should) we try to influence ethics in our disciplines?

  • Putting ethical theory into practice – e.g.,

    • When working collaboratively, how do you negotiate ethics?

    • What do researchers need to do to gain fluency in the ethical concerns and procedures of other disciplines?

    • What does reflective practice look like and how does it support ethics?

  • Application of particular techniques and procedures – e.g.,

    • How do you do [insert method here]?

    • What does a good ethics application look like?


Potential contributors should not feel constrained by this list – you are more than welcome to suggest a poster or session that covers a different topic – but hopefully this short list of suggestions provides a sense of what you can expect to get out of the event when you attend!

Abstract Information

We are looking for abstracts, papers and workshops that convey your understanding of ethics within your disciplinary background, any ethical dilemmas you may have encountered along your research journey and how you have navigated these dilemmas. We are particularly interested in three aspects: 1. How ethics is viewed within your discipline or organisation. We are aiming to have a good mix of presenters from different backgrounds to truly appreciate the divergence of how ethics is understood across different departments, even within the same discipline. If you are planning on submitting an abstract on this topic, please state which department or field your research belongs to on the submission:

  • Ethics in the social sciences.This includes fields such as education, sociology, psychology, anthropology, development studies, political sciences, economics, and social policy.
  • Ethics in the natural sciences. This includes fields such as chemistry, geography, geology, biology, and physics.
  • Ethics in humanities.This includes fields such as philosophy, history, literature, archaeology, law, politics, religion or law.
  • Ethics in formal sciences. This includes fields such as computer science, mathematics, statistics.
  • Ethics in applied sciences.This includes fields such as business, engineering and technology, medicine and healthcare.
2. Ethical dilemmas involving different contexts, participants and data.The following are some questions you have possibly come across depending on the different data you are planning on collecting or have already collected. This may include any primary data involving human participants, animals or tissue samples as well as secondary data analysis. These are some examples of topics you may wish to discuss in your presentation but by no means have we exhausted the many ethical predicaments that could be debated in these sessions. Please take these as inspiration and not as strict questions that need to be addressed!
  • When engaging with human participants, what ethical dilemmas do you confront when dealing with different populations? How do age, class, race, gender, sexuality, geography, (to include but a few socioeconomic factors) affect the way in which you interact with a participant and how does this affect your ethics? What power relationships should you be aware of and how do you navigate these? What does ‘informed consent’ mean in practice and how can you obtain it ethically?
  • When using animals in research, can the use of these animals be justified? Are you using the target animal (e.g., human, shrimp, livestock) or a model organism (e.g., nematodes, Drosophila, mouse)? Is there an alternative animal or model organism you have used? How do these animals fit under Animals Scientific Procedures Act (ASPA) 1986? Will the animals suffer any harm? Have you considered the NC3R’s (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement)?
  • When using tissue samples, how have you considered the source, and if they have been ethically obtained? Are they whole organs or biopsies? How are you making sure your samples ‘last’, reducing the need for collecting more? Are you using tissue from the target animal (e.g., a human) or a model organism (e.g., mouse)? Was the biopsy taken from a live organism, following a natural death, or following an artificial death - and how did you maintain this was ethical?
  • When looking at debates and applied work around AI and Big Data, how does AI reinvent ethics? How do machines affect social dynamics and behaviour? How do we avoid social prejudice and discrimination such as racist, sexist biases to be reproduced in AI? What is the data collated by companies used for? Who is it shared with? How is 'informed consent' redefined?
  • When dealing with secondary data, where does this data come from? How was it collected? In which context was this data collected? Is the organisation or institutional body that conducted the research trustworthy? Who funded the research project?
  • Who is funding your research, and are their goals ethical? Do your goals align with theirs?
  • And finally, a question we should all be asking ourselves throughout our research journey: how does my own subjectivity affect my research work and/or data collection?
3. Decolonising Ethics.In the last few years, debates around decolonising research and decolonial methodologies have been progressively gaining traction, but what exactly does it mean to conduct research from a decolonial perspective? How can we “decolonise ethics”? Questions arise in relation to the traditional roles of researcher/participant, pre-existing power relationships, and the inclusion of the voices of those who have historically been silenced. Conversations around representation and bias are increasingly popular, from social sciences research and fieldwork, to the labs and research groups within the natural sciences departments. A critical reassessment of past research and academic work is taking place, aimed at revising such implicit racist biases. Epistemological questions around what can be considered knowledge, where knowledge is created and by whom, as well as how best to acquire this knowledge become part of the research ethics journey. We must find new ethical praxises through the decolonial turn. We welcome your contributions into this debate which may be inspired by your research praxis, critical theories or your own experience!

Guidelines for Authors

You can submit a proposal as an individual, as co-authors or as a panel. In case of multiple authors, all author names must be stated on the submission. Panel proposals must have a minimum of three and a maximum of five papers. Panel members must also assign a chair to facilitate the session. Workshop proposals will also be considered, please contact us directly on to discuss. PLEASE NOTE: submitting a proposal does not automatically register you for the conference. To register for the conference, you need to do this through Eventbrite. Delegate Registration opens on the 8th February 2021.

Paper requirements:

  • All abstracts need to be written in standard English alongside a maximum of 6 keywords.
  • All abstracts will undergo peer review by at least two reviewers.
  • Abstracts should consist of no fewer than 200 and no more than 400 words.
  • You can include references. References are not included in the word count. You will also have the opportunity to include your reference list in a separate section of the application
  • Symposium/Panel abstracts submissions can include up to 3 – 5 papers/presenters and must include a paragraph about each paper in the symposium including an overview of the symposium/panel.
  • To submit your proposal, please click here or click on the 'Submit an Abstract' link on the 'Abstract Submission' page.
If you have any questions regarding abstract submissions please contact us directly,

Important Dates for Abstract Submissions

  • Call for papers OPENS on the 24th of August 2020.
  • The DEADLINE to submit abstracts is the 1st of February 2021.
  • You will be notified whether your abstract has been ACCEPTED by the 1st of April 2021.
Due to the unprecedented uncertainty of the current situation, we ask for a certain degree of flexibility from the accepted abstract candidates. As we endeavour to organise a physical conference (whilst giving attendees the chance to access sessions virtually), we may need to postpone the event. Were this to be the case, we will ask accepted candidates to confirm their participation in the conference at the revised date.

Poster Information

Delegates may prefer to submit a poster; this is an opportunity to be as creative as you like presenting an idea, an experience, or anything else on the topic of research ethics. This poster can be in relation to the research project you are currently working on, side projects or simply your research proposal. During the conference, you will be given a timeslot to present your poster if you wish to do so, addressing any queries or discussions by bystanders. With your agreement, we can enter your poster as part of a friendly competition which will give you the opportunity to win one of two prizes. Conference attendees will be given the option of voting for a poster which will decide the popular vote. There will also be a panel of scholars choosing their favourite poster which will be the decider of the ‘academic’ vote. To submit a poster please click the following link. Be as creative as you wish! Posters can be brought on the day of the conference without registering them. You will need to bring this first thing in the morning to the registration desk. We do, however, recommend that you register your poster before the conference, as this will guarantee you posterboard/space. We will be ordering more boards than those that have been registered but if you turn up on the day we can not guarantee you space. PLEASE NOTE: Submitting a poster DOES NOT automatically register you for the conference. Please obtain a general registration ticket for the conference through Eventbrite. Any questions, contact us directly by email, What makes a good poster?:

  • Make it bright and eye-catching, but be aware of making it too busy or crowded on the page as this makes it very difficult to read.
  • Be aware of font size- delegates won’t want to stand with their noses pressed to the poster board! Make sure text is legible from a pace back.
  • The poster can take any form you choose, it could be a two dimensional A0 poster but it can also be 3D, a collection of objects that tells a story, a song, a piece of poetry. Be as creative as you wish!
  • Readers should be able to understand the message of your poster without you being there to explain it. It might be a good idea to (briefly) explain the background of your research or work to contextualise your discussion.
  • Include your name and contact details so delegates can speak to you about your work even if you do not see each other at the conference.

Important Dates for Poster Registration

  • Poster submission OPENS on the 1st of September 2020.
  • There is NO DEADLINE to submit posters.

Workshop Registration

If you would like to run a workshop before, during or after the conference, please regiser your interest here. We are looking for workshop relating to the theory and practice of research ethics across all displines. When registering for a workshop, please remember that this confernece is cross-displinary with external stakeholders also in attendance. We welcome new and experienced workshop presenters. For any questions please email and adress your email to Tracey.

REC2021 will be a blended confernce (online and in-person)

Our plan is to run a blended conference in June 2021, combining face-to-face and online presentations with delegates attending in person and remotely. This will give presenters and delegates flexibility about how they want to attend. A blended conference will be achieved through videoconferencing software, which the University of Exeter plans to have installed in every teaching room by January 2021. We will use lapel and roving microphones to ensure sound quality for those attending online and have a chat box projected on a second screen/monitor in all rooms to allow remote delegates to engage using video, audio or chat. There will be a committee member in every room who has been trained in the use of the technology to support Chairs and presenters. We are also making a contingency plan for an online conference in case the UK restrictions at the time will not enable us to hold a face-to-face event. An online event will take place on Zoom, with the REC website as the hosting platform.

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