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Course-based research projects

If any student performs research with human participants as part of an assignment or class participation (i.e. surveys, interviews, observation), he/she must receive research ethics approval before beginning to recruit participants. Without course-based ethics approval, each and every student project must be approved through a full student application to the Faculty Research Ethics Committee.

Course-based ethics approval is a way to expedite review when a significant number of student projects in a course involve human participants. The Faculty Research Ethics Committee can temporarily delegate limited ethics committee authority to an instructor of a specific undergraduate or graduate course. In order to delegate this authority, the ethics committee must ensure the instructor knows enough about the relevant ethical guidelines that apply to his/her students’ research.

Application Procedure

As an instructor, you must submit a separate application for each course. If you are teaching multiple sessions of the same course in a given year, then you may submit a single application. Please fill out the application, attach relevant appendices, and submit the original to Kinga Olszewska in SS 1342. Apply before the course begins, or at the very least, well in advance of the research activity. Clarification or revisions to your application may be requested by the committee prior to approval.

In cases where projects involve more than minimal risk, the approval process is different. The protocol has to be sent to the faculty committee, which will pass it on to the CFREB. The CFREB may review the protocol in a face-to-face meeting with the applicant(s) and then make a decision.

Course-based Renewal

If you are renewing within three years of initial approval and there have been minor changes, please send an email to Kinga Olszewska, describing the specific changes, and attach any relevant documents.

What happens after three years?
After three years, a full application is required once again. This is to enable a completely new set of committee members to review the application, since they are responsible for the review authority delegated to instructors. In addition, over time, ethics policies and procedures at the national level, university level, or faculty level, are occasionally updated to account for changing public and academic concerns regarding research ethics.

Can I get ethics approval that is valid beyond one semester or year?
Course-based projects may qualify as a standard protocol, and hence be granted approval that is valid for a period of three years if:

  • they are repeated across semesters
  • all students will pursue similar questions and employ similar methodologies

Note: If you are submitting a yearly renewal to an ethics certificate within three years of initial approval and there are no changes, please submit an email  to Kinga Olszewska requesting renewal, and state that there are no changes.