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Research Involving Humans

If you are a student conducting research that involves humans, you will have to obtain approval to ensure your research meets all relevant ethical guidelines. Depending on your circumstances, there are two possible paths to approval: departmental ethics review or Research Ethics Board (REB) review.

Regardless of whether you go through departmental or REB review, research involving human participants is governed by Laurier’s Policy 11.13: Ethics Review of 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 both REB and departmental ethics review at Laurier.

All Laurier researchers must complete the TCPS2 Course on Research Ethics (CORE) tutorial and submit the certificate(s) of completion with their ethics application.

Every project that involves collecting information from human participants requires a consent/information letter. Such documents inform participants about your project, explain what they will be asked to do as participants and set out their rights and responsibilities.

Departmental Ethics Review

Your research may qualify for departmental ethics review if you meet all the following criteria:
  • You and all members of your group (if applicable) are undergraduate students.
  • Your research involves minimal risk to human participants (see below).
  • Your supervisor 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 any of the following apply:

  • You or any members of your group (if applicable) are graduate students.
  • Your research involves more than minimal risk to human participants.
  • Your supervisor will be using the research data as part of his or her research.
  • Your research does involve Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

More details: