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General Ethics Guidelines

COURSE-BASED RESEARCH PROJECTS

IN-CLASS RESEARCH RECRUITMENT

A proposal from a faculty member or teaching assistant seeking to use their students as research participants must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the REB that:

  • There is no undue influence or manipulation on the part of the instructor that would likely result in students feeling pressure or coercion to become a participant in their instructor’s research.
  • Consent will be given voluntarily and not as a result of instructor’s position of power/authority over the students they instruct.
  • Data provided by those who volunteer to participate will remain confidential and anonymous so that other students in the class and the instructor will not be able to determine who participated.

To demonstrate to the REB that the elements noted above have been fulfilled, research projects seeking to use students must:

  • Respect that class time is for instructional purposes, not research. Use of class time to conduct research must be kept to a minimal amount of time at the end of each class (i.e., less than 10 minutes). The preferred practice would be to invite students to remain after the end of class to learn more about the research project;
  • Consent to participate will need to be provided to (or collected by) an independent third party with no authority or power over the students (i.e., not the class instructor). The instructor must not be aware of who agreed to participate while the instructor-student relationship exists.
  • An informed consent statement will need to be created and provided to the potential participants explaining the research project. This document must specifically state that there will be no repercussions to those students choosing not to participate;
  • If the project requires the collection of student grades or other identifiable information, this information shall not be provided to the class instructor until the instructor-student relationship has ended. In most cases this will take place only when the instructor has forwarded to the Registrar’s Office all final marks from the class. This process should be clearly outlined in the consent letter.
  • Projects specifically seeking to access student academic materials (grades, assignments, essays, journals, etc.) will need to obtain the consent of the student before such material can be used for research purposes. In seeking to obtain such consent, the instructor must clearly explain to the students how their data will be used. Student consent is not needed to report on the average grade for an entire class.​

PRIVACY, CONFIDENTIALITY AND DATA GUIDELINES​​​

RESEARCH INVOLVING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF CANADA (FIRST NATIONS, INUIT, AND MÉTIS)

Researchers planning to conduct research involving Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada should consult Chapter 9 of the TCPS 2. The guidelines outlined in this chapter are also considered best practice for any work involving communities. Researchers planning to conduct research involving Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada should consult Chapter 9 of the TCPS 2. The guidelines outlined in this chapter are also considered best practice for any work involving communities. 

RESEARCH INVOLVING CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

The consent of the parent or guardian will be required (in addition to that of the participant), for participants under the age of 16, except when the participant is no longer living under the care or control of their parent or guardian. Additional exceptions to this requirement may be considered by the REB on a case-by-case basis.

Please note, in these cases, the REB requires the submission of two consent forms for review: one for the parent/guardian and one for the participant. The consent letter for the participant should contain age-appropriate language to ensure their understanding of the project and their role within it. In some cases a verbal assent script may be necessary with younger participants.

The consent of the parent or guardian will be required (in addition to that of the participant), for participants under the age of 16, except when the participant is no longer living under the care or control of their parent or guardian. Additional exceptions to this requirement may be considered by the REB on a case-by-case basis.

Please note, in these cases, the REB requires the submission of two consent forms for review: one for the parent/guardian and one for the participant. The consent letter for the participant should contain age-appropriate language to ensure their understanding of the project and their role within it. In some cases a verbal assent script may be necessary with younger participants.

RISK

Minimal Risk Research

Minimal-risk research is research in which the probability and magnitude of possible harms implied by participation in the research is no greater than those encountered by participants in those aspects of their everyday life that relate to the research.

If you are not sure whether your research qualifies as “minimal risk,” contact the REB for information and advice.

Higher Risk Procedures 

Some research projects may involve the use of a procedure(s) that is deemed by the REB to entail a higher degree of risk to the potential participants.

If you think your proposed research involves higher-risk procedures please contact the REB to determine any additional information you may need to include with your project.​

​​STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

Researchers who plan to use the same procedure across a number of different projects may choose to have the procedure reviewed and approved by the REB as a separate project.

When approved by the REB, this will eliminate the need to have the procedure repeatedly reviewed when included as part of future projects to the REB.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are deemed to be of minimal risk can be reviewed and approved via the expedited review process.

SOPs that are greater than minimal risk will require full board review and clearance.

To request to have an SOP reviewed and approved by the REB please contact the REB. ​

SECONDARY USE OF DATA

Secondary use of data refers to the use of information originally collected for a purpose other than the current research purpose. Examples include:

  • Social science or health survey datasets that are collected for specific research or statistical purposes, but then re-used to answer other research questions. 
  • Health care records, school records, biological specimens, vital statistics registries or unemployment records, all of which are originally created or collected for therapeutic, educational or administrative purposes, but which may be sought later for use in research.​​​

Research Ethics Board Contacts:

Robert Basso, Chair, Research Ethics Board; Associate Dean, Bachelor of Social Work Program

E: rbasso@wlu.ca

Una Glisic, Manager, Research Compliance and Strategic Initiatives

E: uglisic@wlu.ca

Courtney Lunt, Research Compliance Officer

E: calunt@wlu.ca

Rosemary A. McGowan, Vice-Chair, Research Ethics Board; Associate Professor, Business Technology Management and Leadership

E: rmcgowan@wlu.ca