Research Ethics

Ethical practice in the use, dissemination, attribution, and reproduction of materials is essential for both classroom assignments and learning activities more generally at UFV. This includes the following considerations:

  • Plagiarism: Use of the ideas, information, and written expressions presented by others within classwork and research that one presents as their own
  • Copyright: Fair use (copying, reproduction) of third-party materials (e.g. books and journals, websites, etc.) for one's own use or for distribution
  • Citation: Full attribution given to third-party materials used within one's own work
  • Research Ethics: In addition to the three areas above, a student's "original" research (i.e. that which involves primary data collection and observation) is governed by the rules regarding ethical practice, including the requirement at times for external review of planned research practices prior to proceeding with a project.

Who is Affected by Research Ethics?

Everyone! All researchers are expected to engage in practices that:

  • Respect the rights of individuals within communities in which the research is being conducted, regardless of the nature of the research. This includes the right to privacy, relevant property rights, and the right to have community concerns about the research process heard by the researchers themselves.
  • Respect the ethical norms of the field of inquiry. All researchers are expected to utilize and present information honestly by not manipulating or deliberately misrepresenting the data collected or selectively presenting results to produce a particular desired outcome; and to adhere to the expectations of accuracy, transparency, and peer review.
  • Respect the needs of research collaborators. Collaborators on research projects may include students, faculty members, or community members. Expectations regarding individual roles and responsibilties within a project should be spelled out ahead of time, and respected throughout the process. Researchers must not misrepresent or underrepresent the role of collaborators in research processes. 

Research Involving Human Subjects

When engaging in primary research (i.e. research involving the collection of primary--or original data and observations--materials), student researchers are subject to additional requirements for review when this research involves human subjects. In short, if a project requires the study of people (either in groups or as individuals), then the project may require additional scrutiny before it can begin.

The types of research that requires additional review includes most forms of participant observation, as well as any interviews, surveys, focus groups, participatory research, etc. The research may be conducted by individual students or students working in groups. The purpose of this type of review is to ensure that all steps that can be taken to reduce risk (physical, mental) to subjects and researchers that may result from the research process.

We won't lie. The research ethics review process can feel overwhelming, particularly because a research project may not be able proceed prior to ethical review and approval. However, the research ethics approval process does require student researchers to clearly articulate the objectives and methodologies of their research ahead of time--and this process of identifying these steps can be incredibly valuable in helping a student to organize their project efficiently!

Student researchers will need to familiarize themselves with Human Research Ethics Handbook, as well as the processes of review. More information on these and other resources can be found on the UFV Research Ethics site

  • Timeline. Students applying for a research review will need to budget a minimum of two weeks for review. (Three weeks is encouraged.) Often, the initial application for review will require some revision prior to approval, and this two-week or more window allows time for this revision.
  • Forms. Forms can be found on the UFV Research Ethics site. They can be confusing and frustrating for first-time applicants. Talk with your faculty supervisor for assistance in completing the forms. 
  • Faculty Pre-Review. Once a student application for ethical review is completed, submit this to your faculty advisor or instructor for final review, and then submit them to the chair of the Departmental Research Ethics Committee (DREC).
  • DREC Contact: Submit applications for ethical review to Dr. Michelle Rhodes, the chair of the GATE Departmental Research Ethics Committee (DREC), at michelle.rhodes@ufv.ca.

Research involving children automatically requires review by the full institutional Human Research Ethics Board (HREB). Allow 3-4 weeks for review and approval.

Note: Some classes may already have undergone ethics review and received approval to proceed with the research process. Your instructor will make this known beforehand if this is the case. When class ethics approval is given, it is specific to a narrow scope of research methodologies. Students completing projects that do not adhere to the class-based research plan may still be subject to individual research review. 

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