Research Ethics

York University is committed to the highest standards of integrity in research. All projects involving the use of Human Subjects, Animals and Bio hazardous Materials are subject to review by the appropriate University committee. York University has formulated policies for the conduct of research involving all three of these areas. It is the policy of the University that researchers conducting research involving human subjects, animals and/or biohazardous agents must obtain approval of their research from the relevant ethics committee prior to commencing research activities.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies is governed by the Senate Policy on Research Involving Human Participants. The Senate Policy states that all University-based research involving human participants, whether funded or non-funded, faculty or student, scholarly, commercial or consultative, is subject to the ethics review process.

Graduate students undertaking research for graduate courses, major research papers, theses, or dissertations involving human participants are required to follow the appropriate procedures and obtain ethics approval before conducting research activities. The information below outlines the ethics protocols procedures for each category of research.

Please carefully review the procedures that are relevant to your project, and ensure that you complete and submit all of the required documents along with your research proposal to your graduate program. Incomplete or illegible protocols will be returned to the student, which will delay the process. If you have further questions about research ethics review processes, consult Decision Chart- Full Board and Delegated Ethics Review Processes

Theses, Dissertations and Pilot Projects Involving Human Participants

Graduate students conducting research for the purposes of completing a graduate thesis or dissertation are subject to review by a delegated ethics review committee comprised of the Associate Dean(s), Research, Faculty of Graduate studies and the Chair/Vice-Chair HPRC. Where delegated reviewers decide that a protocol should not be approved, the protocol will be referred to the HPRC for full board review.

All graduate student researchers must complete the TCPS tutorial to establish that they have completed the necessary education component and attach their certificate of completion to their protocols. Protocols will not be accepted for review unless a valid TCPS tutorial certificate is attached.

When is Ethics Review Required?

All research involving human participants is considered research subject to review. The Principal Investigator (researcher) of any research project involving human participants:

  • MUST have a protocol that describes how the researcher(s) will interact with the human participants; and
  • MUST have that protocol reviewed and approved by the appropriate Research Ethics Committee before the  research commences; and
  • MUST obtain informed consent from ALL research participants. For minor age participants (Those under the age of 16 for minimal risk research), both parental consent and participant assent is required.

NOTE:  Failure to obtain ethics approval prior to the commencement of Research Activities is considered both a breach of Senate Policy as well as research misconduct.  All such instances of non-compliance will be addressed by the appropriate institutional office.

Research Ethics Review and Approval Forms and Processes for Theses, Dissertations, and Pilot Projects Involving Human Participants:

A. Minimum risk research :

B. Research that involves Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples; clinical trials; or research that is more than minimum risk:

C. Research conducted as part of a faculty member’s approved research project:

D. Research that is based on secondary data analysis:

Graduate Courses & Major Research Papers (MRPs)

All research involving human participants for graduate courses and Graduate Major Research Papers (MRPs) that is non-funded and minimal-risk must be reviewed by the relevant unit level Delegated Ethics Review Committee. Research subject to review includes, but is not limited to: surveys, questionnaires, interviews, participant observation and secondary data analysis.

For the purposes of Research Ethics Review, “minimal risk” research is defined by the TCPS as 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.

NOTE: Research conducted by students that is more than minimal risk and /or involves Aboriginal/Indigenous peoples and/or involves clinical trials, must be reviewed by the Human Participants Review Committee (HPRC). For these types of research, students are required to complete HPRC form. Please contact the Office of Research Ethics (ORE) at ore@yorku.ca for further information.

For more information on ethics review requirements for graduate and undergraduate course-related research and MRPs, please go to, “Ethics Review Requirements" for Course-Related Research by Students.

When Is Ethics Review Required?

All research involving human participants is considered research subject to review. The Principal Investigator (researcher) of any research project involving human participants:

  • MUST have a protocol that describes how the researcher(s) will interact with the human participants; and
  • MUST have that protocol reviewed and approved by the appropriate Research Ethics Committee before the  research commences; and
  • MUST obtain informed consent from ALL research participants. For minor age participants (Those under the age of 16 for minimal risk research), both parental consent and participant assent is required.

NOTE:  Failure to obtain ethics approval prior to the commencement of Research Activities is considered both a breach of Senate Policy as well as research misconduct.  All such instances of non-compliance will be addressed by the appropriate institutional office.

Delegated Research Ethics Review Committees for research conducted in courses and for MRPs must be composed of a minimum of two faculty members who are in an arm's length position in relation to the research. The Committees may take the form of a standing unit-level Research Ethics Committee OR, where such committees do not exist, may be composed of the Graduate Program Director (or designate) and one faculty member from the program who is at arm's length from the research.

What Forms Do I Use and Where Do I Submit Them?

A. If you are a Graduate or Undergraduate Course Instructor:

If the students in your graduate or undergraduate course are conducting research involving human participants as part of a course assignment, and all students in the class are conducting the same or similar research, then proceed as follows:

  1. Complete the Generic Protocol: Course Related Research Involving Human Participants 
  2. Submit the completed Protocol Package (Protocol form, Consent document(s) and other relevant documents) (such as survey tools, questionnaires, recruitment materials etc) to the relevant Unit level Delegated Ethics Review Committee

B. If you are an Undergraduate Student:

If you are conducting research involving human participants, as part of an undergraduate course assignment, or as an individual project (either for the class or for an undergraduate thesis), then proceed as follows:

  1. Complete the Individualized Protocol: Course Related Research Involving Human Participants;
  2. Submit the completed Protocol Package (Protocol form, Consent document(s) and other relevant documents) (such as survey tools, questionnaires, recruitment materials etc) to the relevant Unit level Delegated Ethics Review Committee  for review and approval.

C. If you are a Graduate Student:

 

  1. If you are conducting research involving human participants, as part of a graduate course assignment, then proceed as follows:
  1. Complete the Individualized Protocol: Course Related Research Involving Human Participants;
  2. Submit the completed Protocol Package (Protocol form, Consent document(s) and other relevant documents (such as survey tools, questionnaires, recruitment materials etc) to the relevant Unit level Delegated Ethics Review Committee.

2. If you are conducting research involving human participants, in support of a Major Research Paper, then proceed as follows:

 

 

  1. Complete the MRP Protocol: Research Involving Human Participants;
  2. Submit the MRP protocol package (protocol, consent document(s), and other relevant documents) such as survey tools, questionnaires, recruitment materials etc) to your Supervisory/Advisory Committee for approval and signature;
  3. Submit the signed MRP Protocol package the relevant Unit level Delegated Ethics Review Committee for review and approval. .

 

D. Graduate Program Directors:

Annually, each Graduate Program will compile the following:

  • A listing of all courses in which research was conducted involving human participants
  • A listing of the titles of MRPs involving human participants and the names of students who undertook the MRPs

These listings will cover the period from June 1st to May 31st and will be forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies using the Report Template.

Resources

For more information, please consult the following sources:

Contact

  • Research Officer
    230 York Lanes
    Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies
    Phone: (416)736-2100 ext. 44168
    Email: fgsro@yorku.ca

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