2011 - 2012 Members Psychology
Student Research Ethics Committee (PSREC)
|M. Rutherford , Psychology, Chair
Course Form for
Guidelines for Course Based Projects
Involving Human Subjects
(Revised December 10, 2010)
Consent Form A
Consent Form B
Psychology Department Letterhead (Word)
Individual Application A
Sample Individual Application
Course Application (for Instructors)
How to Complete a Student Research Ethics Individual Application
| Introductory Psychology Participant
This proposal was approved
unanimously at a meeting of faculty in the Department of Psychology held
on September 8, 1999. It must also be approved by the University Research
Ethics Board. It applies to all psychology courses which begin after its
date of implementation, that is, all psychology courses beginning in or
after January 2000.
These procedures were constructed
to conform with the Tri-Council Policy Statement “Ethical Conduct for
Research Involving Humans” (1998), or TCPS. All quotations and references
are from that document.
The Tri-Council Policy.
Adoption and modification:
These procedures, and any subsequent
changes to them, must be approved by both a majority of the faculty members
in the Department of Psychology and by the University Research Ethics
All research involving humans
as research subjects must be reviewed by either the University or Departmental
Research Ethics Board (TCPS, Article 2.1) Research is defined as “a systematic investigation
to establish facts, principles or generalizable knowledge” (TCPS, Article
1.1.a). This includes research conducted for a McMaster course that is
supervised by an individual who is not affiliated with the University.
Research requiring review includes not only experimental protocols, but
also research involving naturalistic observation, questionnaires, interviews,
or secondary use of data that are not in the public domain. It also extends
to research involving human remains, tissues, biological fluids, or foetuses
((TCPS, Article 2.1, 2.2) TCPS 10.3, 12.3).
The Departmental Committee
shall review research conducted by undergraduate students when (1) it
is conducted as part of an undergraduate course offered by the Department
of Psychology and (2) it is not part of a faculty member’s research
programme already subject to review by any other Ethics Board
(TCPS, Article 6.1). Undergraduate research for a Psychology course
that is supervised by individuals outside the Department of Psychology
shall be reviewed by the Departmental Committee unless it is subject to
review by the University Research Ethics Board or by another Ethics Board
in compliance with the Tri-Council Policy. Research conducted by graduate
students and faculty members in the Department of Psychology must be reviewed
by the University Research Ethics Board (and, when relevant, the Ethics
Board of the institution where the research will be conducted).
The Department shall form a
Committee for the Review of Undergraduate Research constituted of 3 faculty
members and 2 undergraduate students. The membership shall encompass
expertise in various methodologies used in psychology research and in
ethical issues that arise in such research. The Committee is encouraged
to consult relevant experts within and outside the Department of Psychology,
Rationale for recommended composition
of the committee:
For the university committee, the Tri-Council Policy
requires a minimum of five members, including at least two members with
broad expertise in the methods or areas of research to be reviewed, at
least one knowledgeable in ethics, at least one recruited from the community,
and, for biomedical research, at least one member knowledgeable in the
relevant law. The purpose is to assure competence in judging scholarship,
ethics, and community values. For the departmental committee, we
see the faculty members as bringing the expertise in scholarship and ethics,
and the undergraduate students as broadening the perspective to encompass
the viewpoint of the broader community, including that of the undergraduates
who serve as subjects in much of the research to be reviewed. We
also see service on the committee as a valuable opportunity to enhance
the sensitivity of the undergraduate members to ethical issues.
Selection of members:
Members (and any necessary replacements) shall be appointed
by the Chair of the Department. Faculty members shall serve for staggered
3-year terms; undergraduates, for 1-year terms. Terms are renewable. The
Chair of the Committee shall be selected by the Chair of the Department.
Membership shall be reported to the University Research Ethics Board.
The Chair of the Department
is in the best position to choose members with complementary expertise.
Information to be supplied:
Applications may be made for
an individual undergraduate project or for a generic project to be conducted
by several members of a class. Although we encourage the undergraduate
researcher to be involved in constructing the application, the final application
must come from the supervisor or course instructor and be signed by him/her.
The research may not begin until the Departmental or University Research
Ethics Board (if the application has been referred there) has given
its approval. In each case, the application must include:
- The purpose of the project
- How subjects will be recruited
- Method: What will happen from the
subject’s perspective, including a description of any written instruments
to be used
- The process for obtaining the initial
consent and monitoring for ongoing consent, including a copy of any
proposed consent form
- Possible benefits
- Possible harms
- How possible harms will be minimized
- How the subject will be debriefed
- Confidentiality of the data: What
subjects will be told and how that degree of confidentiality will
- Steps to be taken to educate the undergraduate
student(s) about ethical issues relevant to the proposed research
- Whether it is part of a supervisor’s
research subject to review by another ethics committee, and if so,
- Signature of the supervisor and of
the student who will carry out the research
Forms for each academic year will be available
from the Department of Psychology. Applications may be made by E-mail
attachment or by submitting 5 hard copies.
Process and procedure:
Applications should be sent
to the Chair of the Departmental Committee well in advance of the date
at which the research is to be started. In reaching its decisions,
the Committee will be guided by the principles outlined in the Tri-Council
Policy, especially the ethical framework described in its introductory
Chpater 3 on Free and Informed Consent, and Chapter 5 on Privacy and Confidentiality.
Applications will be approved
only for the academic year in which they are made. If the project will
continue in a subsequent year without any change, the applicant should
request renewal of the approval.
Whenever possible, the committee
shall make decisions in face-to-face meetings (TCPS,
Articles 6.8, 6.9). However, proposals that fit the Tri-Council’s
definition of minimal risk–without the least doubt–may be reviewed and
approved by E-mail or mail circulation. Approval requires at least
three approving votes. However, it is anticipated that the committee will
normally reach a consensus and, if necessary, will work with the applicant
to improve the initial proposal.
If the Committee is reviewing
an application in which a Committee member has a personal interest, that
member shall not be involved in the decision
(TCPS, Article 7.3).
The Chair of the Department
shall supply clerical support for the Committee. Applications, records
of decisions, and minutes of the Committee meetings shall be kept for
5 years (TCPS,
Article 6.17). The Committee’s Chair shall prepare an annual report
for the University Committee about the proposals reviewed and approved.
Referral to University Research Ethics
The Departmental Committee
may refer an application to the University Research Ethics Board. Examples
of situations in which referral would be appropriate are research that
the Departmental Committee thinks may be of more than minimal risk, research
involving ethical or legal issues for which it does not have adequate
expertise, and cases for which conflicts of interest reduce its size to
fewer than three members.
Every attempt shall be made to work with
the applicant to reach agreement through discussion, revision, and reconsideration.
When agreement cannot be reached, decisions of the Departmental Ethics
Board may be appealed to the University Research Ethics Board, whose decision
shall be final.
The Departmental Committee shall also consider
any other ethical issues that arise which concern Psychology undergraduates
and research with human subjects, such as subject pools and undergraduate
education about ethics.
Reconsideration of these procedures:
These procedures shall be reviewed not later
than June 2001. On the next two pages, we have included draft checklists
for each course instructor and for the supervisor of each student enrolled
in an independent study or thesis course. These are still being drafted,
and are not part of the formal procedure.
Update December 14, 2010