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Research Ethics

Research Ethics has developed the following resources to assist researchers with the research ethics process:

Sample consent forms
The consent process is fully discussed in chapter 3 of the Tri-Council Policy Statement Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. This includes a discussion of the information generally required for informed consent. The following are some sample consent forms that you may use to guide the development of the consent forms that are most appropriate to your research study:

Sample confidentiality agreement

It is advisable (and ethically prudent) for researchers to clarify roles and responsibilities with respect to the confidentiality of research participant information by transcriptionists and research staff who work with this information, ensuring commitments made to participants about the confidentiality of their research participation and information are honoured. One way to do this is through the use of a confidentiality agreement. In such agreements, lead researchers should explain:

  1. the expectation that the transcriptionist/research staff will maintain and safeguard the confidentiality of information to which they have access. In some cases, the transcriptionist/research staff will be asked to remove names and other identifying information from transcripts or other records; the researcher should clearly describe their expectations about what is considered identifying information and how to de-identify such information in the transcript or other records. Transcriptionists/research staff may not share or discuss with any third party information to which they are privy by virtue of providing transcription or research support services. Transcriptionists/research staff should only discuss the research with lead researchers or members of the research team (as delegated by the lead researchers).
  2. the expectation for secure transmission, storage and destruction of research material (as described by lead researchers to, and approved by, the research ethics board). Describe how the researchers will send/share information with the transcriptionist/research staff securely, how they expect the transcriptionist/research staff to store and/or access the information securely, and how the transcriptionist/research staff should return materials to the researcher securely (and what to return) and how the transcriptionist/research staff should securely destroy any research records (and when).

This template agreement may be used to clarify expectations between researchers and individuals hired to conduct specific research tasks, e.g., recording or editing image or sound data, transcribing, interpreting, translating, entering data, destroying data and should be amended as appropriate for the specific research tasks and context.

Top 10 Tips [PDF - 34 kB]: Here are tips on the top 10 things you can do to improve your REB application and avoid common errors in research ethics submissions.

Researcher Checklist [PDF - 448 kB]: Is your research ethics submission for prospective research complete? Do you wonder what REB members look for in your submission? This list of requirements and questions will help you ensure that you have included all the relevant information to facilitate a thorough ethical review of your research.

The Role of the Supervisor in Research Ethics [PDF - 306 kB]: The responsibilities of supervisors and of academic units with respect to research ethics for research involving humans is described in the University Senate Policy and included here, along with recommendations for supervisors on how to help their students before, during and after the research ethics review process.

Conducting Course-based Research with Students: Dalhousie Research Ethics Board Guidelines on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: This guidance document [PDF - 513 kB] is intended to help guide researchers in the application of research ethics principles to scholarly investigation (research) of the effectiveness of pedagogical innovation and practice related to course-based interventions.  It identifies the key ethical challenges of SoTL research, with the overarching aim of articulating the issues, recommending best practices and communicating these clearly to researchers to support the conduct of ethically sound SoTL research.  The ethical issues pertain to four key domains in the conduct of SoTL research: (a) undue influence and coercion; (b) dual-role research; (c) confidentiality in the use of participant data; and, (d) the use of class time for research purposes.

Protecting Electronically Stored Personally Identifiable Research Data: This quick-reference guide [PDF - 297 kB] was created to help researchers manage the information participants provide to researchers. The focus of this reference guide is on personally identifiable participant information but can be applied to any type of participant research data. It identifies tools/methods that researchers can use to collect, transfer, and store identifiable participant data in ways that are ethically sound and comply with key pieces of privacy legislation. 

Other resources

Research involving children and youth: Best Practices for Health Research Involving Children and Adolescents (2012) [PDF - 1.1 MB] is a publication designed to assist in the application of the guidance in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans in the context of health research involving children and youth.

Mi’kmaw Ethics Watch

If you are conducting research with Mi’kmaw communities, please learn more about the Mi’kmaw Ethics Watch and how to apply for Mi’kmaw Ethics Watch approval for your research project.

Aboriginal research in Newfoundland and Labrador

Guidelines for research involving Aboriginal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador [PDF - 49 kB] are available as a resource for researchers.

International research

The United States Office of Human Research Protections has published the International Compilation of Human Research Standards. Researchers planning to work internationally may find it helpful to consult this compilation to learn more about the laws, regulations and guidelines that govern research involving humans in over 100 other countries.

Photographs and video use in research

The University of Manitoba has developed guidelines for the use of videos and photographs in research [PDF - 21 kB]. Although Nova Scotia researchers are subject to different provincial privacy legislation, these guidelines (including a template consent form [PDF - 52 kB]) offer some useful considerations for researchers as they work with photographs and video in research.

Privacy

Learn more about What an IP Address Can Reveal About You [PDF - 103 kB] (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada), May 2013.

Personal health information is identifiable information about an individual’s health. Use of this information is subject to the Nova Scotia Personal Health Information Act. It does not apply to statistical, aggregate or de-identified health information.

The Department of Health and Wellness presents information about the Act in a lay format on its website. You can also view the presentation [PDF - 1.2 MB] made to the Health Sciences Research Ethics Board.