Guidelines for Teachers Whose Course Activities Involve Research with Human Participants
Vanier College Research Ethics Board 2012-01-10
1. Teachers whose courses require students to conduct research involving or gathering data from human participants as part of their course activities should ensure that their students are adhering to appropriate ethical standards. If in doubt, the teacher should consult the guiding principles of the Tri-Council Policy statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans and summarized on page 1 of the Vanier College Policy on Research Involving Human Participants.
The College’s Institutional Development and Research (IDR) Office or the Research Ethics Board (REB) are also available to answer questions.
2. Teachers should approve all students’ methods of data collection and data collection instruments prior to data collection from any human participants. Teachers of courses with a research component are responsible for ensuring that students adhere to ethical standards of practice. Teachers can consult with the REB or IDR Office if they have any questions.
3. Teachers should ensure that all questionnaires or surveys distributed outside of class contain a consent/confidentiality statement (suggested template included at the end of this document).
For interviews, or any recording of voice or video, information about what will be done with the notes or recordings after the research is completed should be added to the statement, along with a request for the participant’s signature.
4. Observational studies without the knowledge or consent of those observed must be done in public spaces, where one would expect one’s behaviour to be public.
5. Projects involving the collection of sensitive information such as information about participants’ compulsive behaviours (compulsive gambling, shopping, sex etc), psychological disorders, illegal behaviours, sexual identity, sexual behaviours, abuse experiences, drug and alcohol use, ….) require increased protection of confidentiality:
• Potential participants should be informed of the general topic or nature of the questions prior to agreement to participate.
• The consent/confidentiality statement should include the information that the participant may stop their participation at any time, or return questionnaires blank or without answering some items, without any explanation being required.
• A reasonably private location for filling out questionnaires should be provided.
• Questionnaires should be returned to the researcher in an envelope.
• The student researcher should only open envelopes containing questionnaires when data collection is near completion (so it is harder to identify a specific questionnaire as coming from a specific student)
Questionnaires about sensitive topics where a participant might benefit from treatment, such as compulsive behaviours or other psychological disorders, substance abuse or learning difficulties, should include information on access to assistance or treatment, such as Student Services or appropriate outside agencies.
If data is to be collected about the above-mentioned sensitive topics from participants outside Vanier, the study must go through the REB approval process (Contact the IDR Office for further details).
6. In the following situations, even though the project is an in-class activities, it should be submitted to the REB:
• When vulnerable populations are to be participants in the research (including minors other than Vanier students, any person with an impairment that might affect his or her ability to give informed consent, and any person who is institutionalized such as people in hospitals, care homes, or prisons). The student should also be made aware that parents or institutions (such as schools) may require separate consent or approval processes in these cases.
• For any study involving deception, or observation (including participant observation) in non-public spaces without participant consent.
7. Questions about suicidality should be avoided because of complications involving requirements to breach confidentiality in order to intervene in a situation that might be dangerous.
8. Data collected as a course activity should not be used for any other purpose or provided to anyone other than the students collecting it and the teacher of the course. Summaries of the data and data analysis may be presented to the class. If the data may be used for any other purpose, or reported or given to anyone else, the study must go through the REB approval process before data collection begins.
Include a paragraph like this on the front of any questionnaire or other materials given to participants, or handed out to participants in interviews or experiments. If doing surveys on-line, this paragraph should be added at the beginning of the survey, or if that is not possible, it should be included in the document given or sent to participants, providing the link to the survey.
You are being asked to participate in a research project being carried out by (put in student names) for the (put in the name of the course) course at Vanier College, for the (indicate year and semester). Your participation is entirely voluntary, and if you decide to participate, you may stop your participation at any time, without obligation or explanation. The results of your research participation will be analyzed with that of other participants, without any identifying information. All results are confidential.
If you have any questions about this study, please contact the researchers, or the teacher (include teacher’s name and contact info).