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Departmental Review of Student Research Conducted as Part of Course Work

Undergraduate and graduate student research involving human participants that is conducted as part of course work is subject to review for compliance with the TCPS 2. In the ICEHR's constituencies, academic units must devise procedures by which research conducted by graduate and undergraduate students as part of their course work can be reviewed by departmental review committees (DRCs). The following minimal requirements must be met:

  • Specific procedures for DRCs must adhere to the guidelines of the TCPS 2, and must be formalized in writing and approved by the heads of academic units and by the ICEHR.
  • Each DRC shall be linked to the ICEHR through a reporting mechanism which will require at least annual reports to the ICEHR. Such reports must outline activities of the DRC and provide details deemed sufficient by the ICEHR to certify that the DRC has satisfactorily discharged its responsibilities.
  • A DRC shall review only minimal risk proposals. The DRC will employ the guidelines of the TCPS 2 in identifying such proposals. All other proposals for undergraduate and graduate research must be reviewed by the ICEHR.
  • Scholarly review shall be a component of reviews conducted by DRCs where appropriate.
  • Subject to special documented considerations owing to the size and composition of individual departments, each DRC shall normally consist of no fewer than three members with due consideration given to gender equity. Members shall be appointed by the head of the academic unit. All members shall be competent to judge the ethical acceptability of proposals and shall be knowledgeable about the TCPS 2. The DRC should be constituted in a manner that enables it to consider a project’s scholarly merit, as part of the ethics review process. Departments are encouraged, where feasible, to consider a joint DRC with a cognate department.
  • Academic units may establish additional requirements for department review committee membership.
  • One member of the DRC shall act as the Chairperson of the DRC and shall act as the liaison between the DRC and the ICEHR.
  • Approval by a DRC shall be deemed approval by the ICEHR.
  • Record keeping requirements for a DRC shall be the same as for the ICEHR.
  • If an applicant believes that his or her proposal poses greater than minimal risk to participants, he or she may submit the proposal directly to the ICEHR in order to conserve time during the review process.
  • According to the TCPS 2, “[department] review should not be used for research in which an undergraduate student is carrying out research that is part of a faculty member’s own research program” (Article 1.4). This exclusion applies to all course instructors, including undergraduate honors and independent study course supervisors, whether or not such persons are Faculty members. Course instructors must receive regular ICEHR review for their own research proposals. Where there is meaningful overlap between the research an instructor assigns as course work to undergraduate students and the instructor’s own research program, the research must receive regular ICEHR review. DRCs are authorized to develop means of assessing the degree of overlap between course work and the instructor’s research.