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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
April 24, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Research Ethics

Ethics Review at Laurier for Research Involving Humans

If you are collecting information from people (participants) with the use of surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, participant or naturalistic observation, experimental methods, or are using secondary data with identifying information, the Research Ethics Board or a departmental ethics review committee needs to review and approve your research project before you collect any information from your participants.

The Research Ethics Board reviews and approves research projects of faculty members and graduate students, while the departmental ethics review committees, for the most part, review and approve projects of undergraduate students.  However, if the undergraduates’ projects are part of a faculty member’s own research program or if the participants are at greater than ‘minimal risk’ by participating, the Research Ethics Board needs to review and approve the project.

Step 1:  Read the WLU Research Ethics Policy.

Step 2:  From the list of forms at that link, select the one entitled Request for Ethics Review.  Complete that form.  In it you will describe your project, who the participants are, what you are asking them to do, risks and benefits of your project, aspects of confidentiality concerning the participants and the information they provide, as well as other matters related to the ethics review.

Step 3:  Every project that involves collecting information from people needs an information letter/informed consent statement where you inform your participants about your project, tell them what they will do as participants, and set out their rights and responsibilities.  Write your information letter/informed consent statement.  There are two resources on the ethics web site to help you do that.  First, read the document entitled Informed Consent Statement/Information Letter Checklist; it provides suggestions for dealing with the types of information that is generally included in the information letter/informed consent statement.  Second, at the end of the Request for Ethics Review Form is a ‘Sample Informed Consent Statement’ that you may use as a template for writing your letter/statement.

Step 4:  There are often other documents that need to be attached to your application for ethics review.  For example, if you have surveys or questionnaires, they need to be attached.  If you are telephoning your participants, attach the script for your telephone call.  If you are recruiting participants with a poster or letter or e-mail message, for example, attach a copy of the material used in the recruitment process.  If you are using an unstructured interview or focus group, attach a list of topics or questions that will be covered at the interview or focus group.  If you are a student researcher, you will need to submit the form entitled Confirmation of Supervisor’s or Instructor’s Review, which attests to the fact that your faculty advisor or course instructor has read your ethics application.

Step 5:  Send or bring your documents from Steps 2, 3, and 4 to the Research Office or to the chair of the appropriate departmental ethics review committee.

Step 6:  Assuming that your ethics application is complete, the Research Ethics Board or the departmental ethics review committee reviews it.

Step 7:  The chair of the Research Ethics Board or the departmental ethics review committee sends its comments to the researcher, who reacts to those comments and replies to that chair.

Step 8:  In some cases there may be further correspondence between the chair of the Board or committee and the researcher.  Once the project has been approved, the chair of the Board or committee will send a letter to that effect to the researcher.

Research Involving Animals

Please note that the Research Ethics Board or the departmental ethics review committee must review and approve any changes or modifications to the project that relate to the researcher’s dealings with her or his participants before those changes are implemented. Under the Ontario Animals for Research Act and the Canadian Council of Animal Care (CCAC) Guidelines for the Care and Use of Experimental Animals, it is a requirement that all researchers who will be conducting research, testing or teaching projects at Wilfrid Laurier University involving the use of animals must obtain approval of the Wilfrid Laurier University Animal Care Committee (WLUACC) before commencing the project. There must be an approved protocol for all procedures involving the use of vertebrate and certain invertebrate (in particular, octopi and squid) animals in research by faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students, research associates, and all other personnel regardless of source of funding. Protocols for non-faculty members must be submitted under the name of the senior faculty member supervising the project. Any animal research or teaching project administered by the University which is to be conducted in the field or in a facility not owned by Wilfrid Laurier University must be covered by an approved protocol. No experiment may be carried out until full approval has been obtained. Animal use Protocol forms are available from the Research Office website or from the chair of the Animal Care Committee (ACC). The ACC meets once in September, November, January, March, May, and July of each academic year. Please inquire with the ACC secretary for exact dates.