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Research Involving Humans

The Tri-Council Policy Statement 2: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2) describes principles, standards and procedures for governing research involving human participants in Canada. It is the basis for research ethics review at Laurier. Student who plan to conduct research that involves human participants or human biological materials, you will have to obtain ethics clearance to ensure your research meets all relevant ethical guidelines. Research involving human participants is governed by Laurier’s Policy 11.13: Ethics Review of Research Involving Humans and requires clearance from the University Research Ethics Board (REB) before any research begins.

Before You Apply

Complete the TCPS 2: Course on Research Ethics (CORE) Tutorial

All Laurier researchers must complete the TCPS2 CORE Tutorial and submit the certificate(s) of completion with their ethics application. 

Determine Review Process Required

Departmental Research Ethics Committee (REC) Review

Your research may qualify for departmental research ethics committee (REC) review  if you meet all of the following criteria:
  • Your department has a departmental REC.
  • Your research is part of your course work.
  • You and all members of your group are undergraduate students.
  • Your research involves minimal risk to human participants (see below).
  • Your supervisor/instructor will not be using the research data as part of his or her research.
  • Your research does not involve Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

What Is 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 the aspects of their everyday life that relate to the research.

If you are not sure whether your research qualifies as minimal risk, contact the Research Ethics Board for information and advice.

Research Ethics Board Review

Your research must go through Research Ethics Board (REB) review if your research does not fall under Departmental REC Review.

Research that May Be Exempt from REB Review

Some research may be exempt from REB review. Determination of exemptions is based on institutional or regulatory criteria, including information provided in Chapter 2 of the TCPS 2 (2014), Articles 2.1-2.6.  Please contact the REB if you think your research may fall under one of the following categories:

  • Research that relies exclusively on publicly available information when it is accessible to the public and appropriately protected by law, or publicly accessible and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., Statistics Canada public use files).
  • Research involving the observation of people in public places (e.g., stadium, planetarium, beach, museums, parks, or library) where there is no intervention staged by the research or direct interaction with the individuals or groups, those under observation have no reasonable expectation of privacy, and any dissemination of research results does not allow identification of specific individuals.
  • Research that relies exclusively on secondary use of anonymous information or anonymous human biological materials, so long as the process of data linkage or recording or dissemination of results does not generate identifiable information.
    • Note: Anonymous is distinct from anonymized or coded data that was initially collected with identifiers. Secondary use of anonymized and coded data is required to undergo REB review. Please see Identifiability of Information and Secondary Use of Data for details.
  • Laurier students on co-op placements or similar work terms may be asked by their employer to undertake a variety of projects and assignments involving human participants. Such projects will be exempt from REB review when the project is used exclusively by the employer (i.e. it will not be used for academic purposes at Laurier) and there is no reference or association between the project and Laurier.
  • Creative practice activities in and of themselves do not require REB review (e.g., an artist makes or interprets a work of art). However, a creative practice that seeks responses from participants whose responses will be analyzed to answer a research question is subject to REB review.

Note: Various university policies, agreements and privacy legislation further regulate the use of data collected and maintained by Laurier.   Researchers seeking access to such data should ensure compliance with these items. Please see Privacy and Access at Laurier for more information.