All researchers at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (FSS-VU) should review their upcoming research projects for any ethics issues.
The Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) provides guidance in dealing with these issues, as well as a standardized review procedure.
Complete the online ethics Self-Check form, consisting of 15 yes/no questions dealing with possible risks your research may entail. Make sure you click ‘yes’ to receive a confirmation message displaying your responses and the result of the check. You will get a confirmation that you have gone through the checklist and your research complies with FSS-VU ethical guidelines. Save the pdf you get via e-mail.
If the result is that your research does not need further review, you can start with your research.
If the result is that your research needs further review, go to step 2.
2. Discuss the risks
It is important to consider whether identified risks can be avoided by adapting your research plan. Discuss your research plan with your supervisor and your department’s RERC member. Revise your research plan to reduce and tackle risks. Go back to step 1: complete the self-check again based on the revised plan. If the result is still that full ethics review is necessary, proceed to Step 3.
3. Prepare full ethics review
With your research team, create
- A short description of the research questions, the societal and scientific relevance of the research, and the research design (max. 1 A4);
- the information for participants,
- the consent form,
- the research materials (manipulations, questionnaire, topic list),
- the anonymization procedure, and
- the data management plan.
You can find examples of these materials under “Guidelines and documents” below.
If you have everything (i.e, 6 documents), go to step 4.
4. Submit materials for ethics review
Complete the online Ethics Review Application Form and upload the required documents. Note that only research project leaders can submit an application for ethics review. If you are a Master or PhD student, ask your supervisor to submit the materials. You can find a pdf version of the full review form under “Guidelines and documents” below.
5. Revise and resubmit
Once your application is received, the secretary will screen it. Be ready to answer clarification questions and revise, resubmit or add materials. When your application is complete, the secretary will send it out for review to two members of the Research Ethics Review Committee. The full committee will discuss your research at the next meeting. The committee meets once a month during the academic season (September – June), on the last Monday of the month:
January 25, 2021;
February 22, 2021;
March 29, 2021;
April 26, 2021;
May 31, 2021;
June 28, 2021.
After the discussion of the reviews of your application in the RERC meeting, you will receive a letter from the chair of the committee via email. The letter either states that your research complies with the ethics guidelines of the faculty, or asks you to revise the research materials and resubmit them for further review.
If your research involves possible risks, be advised that you should apply for the ethics review procedure well before you start collecting your data. If your research requires a full ethics review, the review committee requires at least ten days to study your application, and must subsequently discuss your application at the next monthly meeting. If concerns remain, you may need to resubmit your application.