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:

The Role of the Supervisor in Research Ethics

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.

Protecting Electronically Stored Personally Identifiable Research Data

This quick-reference guide [PDF 193 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. 

Indigenous Research Resources

Participant misrepresentation in research

This resource [PDF 201 kB] describes some ethically acceptable strategies for preventing participant misrepresentation in research as well as mitigation strategies for situations in which researchers suspect that participants have misrepresented their eligibility for a research study.

Conducting Course-based Research with Students: Dalhousie Research Ethics Board Guidelines on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The REB has developed two tools to help researchers when designing and conducting course-based research:

1. Guidelines. 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 scholarship of teaching and learning (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. 

2. User Guide. Adopting an interactive approach, the user guide helps researchers navigate ethical issues by addressing key questions they may encounter while designing their course-based research project. This user guide was designed to help researchers apply the guidelines (above), which should be consulted first.

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.

Recruitment messages

This document discusses some helpful hints and provides an example of a recruitment poster [PDF 1.2 MB].

Other Resources

Education for participants

A set of educational resources to assist current and prospective participants in their choices about taking part in research has been developed by the Government of Canada’s Panel on Research Ethics.  

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.

Research involving children and youth

Best Practices for Health Research Involving Children and Adolescents 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.

Sex and Gender in Health Research

The CIHR Institute for Gender and Health has developed a training course and other resources.

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.

Research ethics protocol appeal process

If a Dalhousie research ethics board has refused ethics approval of the research, researchers may appeal the decision on the grounds of a substantive failure of the research ethics board in applying the ethical principles supported by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans or for a substantial failure in the research ethics board review process. The protocol appeal process is described here [PDF 439 kB].