Frequently Asked Questions

Basics of ERM for reviewers

Is there still ethics Release and ethics Approval?
If you have acted as a reviewer for a Teesside REC before, you will be familiar with two types of application form: ethics Release and ethics Approval. On the ERM, this distinction is no longer made as ERM automatically assigns applications to the correct review route. What you may see on the way applications are listed is an ‘Application Type’ which shows how the application has been routed. However, for the most part this does not affect how you go about reviewing applications: the Application Type is a system-based categorisation only and does not affect how you review them.
What application forms are there?
The majority of applicants complete the same basic form which is then routed by the ERM. Applications simply complete the form online via the application side of the ERM. There are three form templates which depend on to where the applicant is applying. The vast majority of applicants in SCEDT, SHLS, SSSHL and TUBS will use the standard Teesside online application form. For those applicants who must make an application via IRAS for NHS or Ministry of Justice applications, there is a form to host a PDF upload for IRAS application forms so that they can be reviewed by a TU REC before submission via IRAS. MIMA School of Art and Design have a bespoke form template as the applications from MIMA are so different from the other Schools. These three templates are selected by the applicant using a drop-down menu when they create their application. However, the way in which the review functions work are the same for all of the form templates and the only difference between them is the number and type of questions.
The system is permissions based: you will only be able to take actions appropriate to your permissions. Unless you have permission to take decisions on applications, the functions you will use as a reviewer are ‘Review Application’ and ‘Comments’ only. In some Schools, reviewers will also be using a validation stage for applications, and in those cases, there will also be ‘Invalidate’ and ‘Validate’ functions available to you.

Workflow and Navigation

How do I know that I have applications to review?
As a reviewer, you will only see applications that you need to review. Applications that you need to review will appear in your Work Area and become part of your workflow
Work Area and Workflow
The main page of the review side of the ERM is arranged in the ‘WORK AREA’ The basic organisational element throughout the Work Area is the ‘Tile’, which are the grey oblong icons on your Work Area. The tiles show the number of items that are contained in the category that they represent by a number on their face which will change as items move into and out of them. In the workflow tiles under ‘Reviews’, this is particularly useful for the tiles representing applications: a quick glance at them will show how many applications are within that group. If you are reviewing applications, the number on the tile for those applications will give you a quick indication of the volume of applications requiring review. Likewise, the number on the ‘Meetings’ tile will show how many upcoming meetings there are for your Committee. The Work Area tiles are divided into two main groups General Tiles and Reviews Tiles. All reviewer access consists of a top set of ‘General’ Tiles. Underneath these will be the name of your Committee as the title of a ‘Reviews’ section. This is your ERM Workflow. Each Committee and different review levels will have slightly different work flows. As a rule, basic reviewer access will show a single tile named ‘At Meeting’ and/or a series of tiles with titles of disciplines and ‘For Review’ – this depends on which Committee you are reviewing for.
General Tiles in the Work Area
The ‘Notifications’ tile shows when you have been sent notifications to your ERM account and will tell you how many notifications have been received. The general tile that you will use most is the ‘Meetings’ tile which shows how many upcoming scheduled meetings there are for your Committee. You may also access applications via this tile, further details in Section 4 below. ‘Contacts’ allows you to store contact information for other staff or reviewers. ‘Reports’ will show any reports that you are able to run, such as applications approved, discipline breakdown of applications and so on. You will only see a number on this tile if reports are available for your level of permissions. For most reviewers, this will show a ‘0’.

Accessing and Reviewing Applications

Accessing applications via Reviews Workflow tiles
Applications will show up in your Reviews workflow under different tiles and the names and number of tiles will depend on which Committee you are reviewing for. The standard reviewer tiles will be marked either with ‘For Review’ or ‘At Meeting’. The difference between these two categories is that applications under the ‘For Review’ tile have not yet been assigned to a meeting, but are available to you for review in advance of them being assigned to a meeting. You will not be shown applications that are not ready to be reviewed. If applications show under the ‘At Meeting’ tile, these have already been assigned to a meeting, but you should note that applications under this tile will show for all future scheduled meeting, not necessarily the next meeting. Again, if you can see the applications, you can review them: you will not see applications that are either not ready for review or that have already been reviewed and a final decision on them taken. You may access applications using either tile in order to review them. The usage possibilities for accessing applications this way rather than through a specific meeting is that you can do your reviews of applications in advance of any actual meeting: the ERM captures any comments made in any application at any stage, automatically. Doing review in advance means that there is less to do at the meeting itself. The other main difference if you have both ‘For Review’ and ‘At Meeting’ tiles is that the ‘At Meeting’ tile will show all Application Types whereas the ‘For Review’ tile will show specific Application Types. This mostly affects reviewers in Schools with many disciplines and Application Types. Note that there will be no duplication between these two tiles: once an application has been assigned to a meeting, it will only show up under the ‘At Meeting’ tile or via the meeting itself. Likewise, if an application shows under the ‘For Review’ tile, it will not yet show under the ‘At Meeting’ tile or at a specific meeting.
Access applications via the Meetings tile
Accessing applications via a meeting means accessing only applications assigned to a specific scheduled meeting. In order to do this, you must access the meeting itself –via the Meetings tile - and then look at the applications assigned to that meeting. This way of accessing meetings can be used in two ways. Firstly, in advance of a meeting or in preparation for a meeting, you can review and comment on applications being reviewed by the Committee at that meeting. Secondly, at the meeting itself, the Committee will access the applications for review using this method. The advantage of using the meeting to access applications is that you are only doing review for the most important applications that are due for review by being assigned to a meeting. This means it is most likely that the applications will be the ones that have been longest pending review. To access applications via a meeting, first click the ‘Meeting’ tile in the General Tiles at the top of the Work Area. This will bring up a list of all the meetings scheduled for the Committee. To open a specific meeting, just click anywhere on the line for that meeting. This will bring up the meeting pages.
Using the meetings pages
Across the top of the meeting page, there is a series of tabs, one of which is named ‘Reviews’. Clicking on this will give access to the applications assigned to the specific meeting that you are browsing. You will need to get used to the way the meeting Reviews tab is organised, as it is the way the Committee will access and review applications during a meeting itself. If you want to show only applications of a particular Type, using the ‘Search Reviews’ field will allow you to filter only those you want to look at. The search field is intelligent and will find any text based on any string of characters in real time, you do not need to type the whole name and then search for it. You may also use the Search field to find a specific applicant name or project title within the list of all applications. You will see two statuses when accessing applications at a meeting. At first, all applications will show a status of ‘At Meeting’. Once an application has been reviewed and a decision made, the application will change to ‘Comments Closed’. Applications with this status can no longer have comments added to them and move out of your reviewer workflow, no longer appearing on your workflow in a tile. To open an application in order to review it, you just click on the ‘Review Reference’ link which is the live blue link.
Virtual meetings
Virtual meetings are organised and scheduled in exactly the same way as standard meetings and will be displayed under the ‘Meetings’ tile in the same way. Accessing applications is done in the same way as well. The way that different forms of meeting are distinguished in the ERM is that on the meeting list under the ‘Meetings’ tile, standard meetings will be shown as ‘Standard’ under the column ‘Type’ and have a start and end date on the same day; whereas virtual meetings will be shown as ‘Virtual’ and will have different start and end dates. The main issues to be aware of for virtual meeting review are: • The meetings will have a date range rather than be for a single date. This is to allow for the review and collation of comments at the convenience of reviewers. An end date will be specified by which you must have made your comments for them to be included for the applications at the virtual meeting • Applications will be assigned to a virtual meeting in the same way as for standard meetings and reviewer comments will be added to applications in the same way as for applications being reviewed at standard meetings • Comments aimed at internal communication – through having the comments ‘not visible’ to applicants – will be more important to make remarks and observations for the benefit of other reviewers, as you will not be able to make such remarks during a meeting, as you would for a standard meeting • All other processes are the same: it is just the lack of meeting in person and the longer period that the virtual meeting takes place that differ from the standard meeting format.
How to review an application: Top Sheet and Timeline
Once you have accessed an application by clicking into it, you will be taken to the main project ‘top sheet’ also known as the ‘Timeline’. This gives details about the application and applicant. This is the same whether you have accessed the application via a workflow tile or via a meeting. The Top sheet is divided into two main areas. The upper area gives information about the application. The lower area is a tabbed interface through which you can access a number of different elements relating to the application The ‘Timeline’ tab – which is the default view – shows a graphic and list view of the main timing and actions for the application The ‘Documents’ tab shows a list of all documents that were uploaded into the application, regardless of where they were uploaded. This is very useful for finding standard documents -- such as participant information sheets, consent forms, questionnaire content and research protocols – without having to go into separate questions to find them. The ‘Contacts’ tab gives the applicant’s name and email and also, if they are a student applicant, the name and email of the supervisor who authorised and ‘signed’ their application. The Side bar shown when you are viewing the top sheet shows buttons that you will use to actually review the application. Clicking on ‘Review Application’ will take you in to the application form itself.
How to review an application: Application form navigation
When you click on ‘Review Application’ you will be taken to the top of the application form itself. Application forms consist of named sections in a left hand column and the questions in each section are shown on the right as live links. Any sections greyed out are not live, as the form automatically closes off certain questions based on how the applicant answers the filtering questions. You can browse any question/answer, in any order, by clicking on them. The questions at the top of the form – up to ‘Security Sensitivity’-- are filtering questions and normally you will not need to look at these. The main questions are lower down. It is suggested to always start with the ‘Project aims and methods’ section and then look elsewhere for more detail, including the documents uploaded, as you need to. As a reviewer, when you are reviewing the application form you are actually ‘inside’ the application side of the ERM. You have access to exactly the same content as the applicant did when making their application. This includes the guidance on some questions that is provided, which may also be helpful as a reviewer. If available, guidance is shown by an ‘i’ in a circle to the top right of the question. The application form layout consists of a series of questions over a number of web screens. The number of questions that an applicant has been required to answer depends on how they responded to the filtering questions and also on how specific elements of other questions were answered. Some question pages are short consisting of only a single questions and other pages may have multiple questions. You will need to scroll down on the longer and multiple part questions. As a reviewer, you can navigate inside the online form in two ways: You can use the top navigation page with the Sections and Links to jump around from question to question inside the form. Alternatively, you can step through a form in sequence, either forwards or backwards, without having to return to the navigation page. To do this, use the ‘Next’ button located at the top of the left hand sidebar to progress to the next page of questions or to go back to the previous page of questions, use the ‘Previous’ button. To view the uploaded documents in the application click ‘Documents’. To return to the top navigation page of the application project, use the ‘Navigate’ button. You can return to the ‘Timeline’ top sheet by clicking the ‘Timeline’ button; You can create a PDF for offline work by clicking the ‘Print’ button: this creates a PDF for saving and browsing offline, which you can then print out if necessary. You should bear in mind that any comments for an application will need to be entered into the live online form, so working offline with a PDF or on paper creates an extra step for you when reviewing as any annotations made will need to be transferred into the online form later.

Commenting Functions

Comments and correspondence to applicants
The system has automated correspondence in which decisions and comments are sent to applicants by email. In order for this to work, you must add your comments into the online form when reviewing applications so that they are saved in the application for the correspondence functions to collate. The visibility of comments can be turned on and off. You may save an application as a PDF (and print it if absolutely necessary) for offline working, but any comments you need to make on an application would then need to be transferred into the online form to be captured and included in the decision on that application.
Types and functions of comments
In ERM, there are two types of comment and two ways in which these comments will be used. ‘Reviewer Comments’ are comments that are attached to a specific question in the application and will be the ones that reviewers use the most. ‘Form Comments’ are comments that are linked to the entire application form and are most likely to be used by the Chair as they can only ever be very general. All comments can be made visible to an applicant and sent to them with a decision. The visibility of comments is shown by a grey/green button that is used to toggle them visible or not-visible. By default, all comments are not-visible and need to be toggled to visible for the applicant to see them. If comments are not made visible, then they function as internal comments only that can be seen by reviewers to add remarks that will help with the review process.
Adding comments
To add a new Reviewer Comment to a question on an application, click on the ‘New Comment’ button on the Sidebar. This brings up a highlighting page on the question where you can click on the part of the question to which you want to attach your comment. After clicking on the question you want to comment on, a pop-up appears in which you can add your comment and toggle the visibility. There are two buttons to toggle comment’s visibility: ‘Change Request’ and ‘Visible to Applicant’. By default, these will both be off/grey. In the majority of cases, your comments will also be a request for a change, so you should toggle both of these on. Alternatively, you can add all your comments leaving them as ‘Hidden from applicant’ and then selectively turn them on later from an edit screen. The advantage of doing this is that it is likely that many reviewers will make the same remarks about an application and selective toggling of visibility means that applicants will not be sent lists of the same comment by multiple reviewers when a single comment will suffice. After comments have been added, these will show up as a number on the ‘Reviewer Comments’ button on the sidebar.
Comment visibility
There are two buttons to toggle comment’s visibility: ‘Change Request’ and ‘Visible to Applicant’. By default, these will both be off/grey. In the majority of cases, your comments will also be a request for a change, so you should toggle both of these on. Alternatively, you can add all your comments leaving them as ‘Hidden from applicant’ and then selectively turn them on later from an edit screen. The advantage of doing this is that it is likely that many reviewers will make the same remarks about an application and selective toggling of visibility means that applicants will not be sent lists of the same comment by multiple reviewers when a single comment will suffice.
Viewing and editing comments
After comments have been added, these will show up as a number on the ‘Reviewer Comments’ button on the sidebar. Clicking on this button will then bring up a pop-up where all reviewer comments can be seen and edited. This will show not just the comments that you have added but all comments added by any reviewer at any stage. This is where having added comments prior to a meeting will be shown and can save quite a lot of time at a meeting. All comments can be edited using the blue ‘edit’ button at the right. Visibility can be toggled directly from this pop-up so is very useful for collating comments prior to sending to the applicant. If an application is a resubmission, then comments attached to the previous submission will be shown under the ‘Previous’ tab. ‘Current’ comments will show all comments for a new application and new comments attached to a resubmission of an application.
Comment etiquette
As the ERM automatically collates and sends comments via auto-correspondence to applicants, you should remember that: Comments are sent directly to the applicant inside the form and via email and attachment so you should always write comments meant for the applicant directly to the applicant. Be careful about making internal comments or remarks designed to communicate with other reviewers visible accidentally and ensure that comments visible to the applicant are worded appropriately. There are check points in the correspondence functions to avoid applicants receiving internal or inappropriate comments but, to be on the safe side, only add comments that you would want an applicant to see.

Information for Chairs of RECs