Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Ethics FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does TRU Administration direct Research Ethics Board (REB) decisions? No. REB decisions follow the TCPS2 and are independent of administration influence. Adminstration's role is to support the REB in doing its job. Institutional policies and procedures are in place to ensure compliance with TCPS2.

2. I have a research project as part of the class I am teaching. Do I need REB approval? Yes, there is a special Course Approval application form in Romeo.

3. I will be conducting an online survey. Do I need consent? Yes, consent is always required. For online surveys it is often sufficient to include a consent section at the beginning of the survey. The consent section should: 

  • briefly explain the purpose of the study.
  • explain that completing and submitting the survey indicates an understanding of the purpose of the study and an agreement to participate.
  • include "I agree" and "I do not agree" buttons so that participants can clearly indicate whether they understand the purpose of the study and whether they agree to participate.

In the case of electronic surveys and survey tools, you must tell participants which tool you will be using and if information collected from the survey will be stored in the USA. Participants must be made aware that collected information that is stored in the USA is subject to the Patriot Act.

4. I will not be gathering names on my survey (electronic or otherwise). Do I still need consent from the participants? Yes. You must inform the participant about the purpose of the study, how the information collected will be used, etc. (See Participant Checklist & Good Practices section in Romeo.)

5. I will be using my students as my research participants. What do I need to consider? You will need to carefully consider any potential for coercion. Who will tell the students about the research? Will you be able to determine which students chose to participate? How will you ensure that student information remains anonymous? These are considerations you will need to discuss fully in your application.

6. I will be engaging Aboriginal people in my research. Do I need any special permission from that group? Yes, if you are asking an Aboriginal group to participate or if the First Nations, Inuit, and/or Métis group is itself the focus of the research. You will need to ensure you have involved or at a minimum consulted with the leadership of the group and have a research agreement in place. You will need to provide the agreement with your application.

7. My research project will take two years. Will my ethics approval cover the entire period of the project? No. REB approvals are provided for one year. If your project extends beyond the approval period, you must renew the application with the renewal form in the Romeo system. This one-year timeline also applies to ethics applications for courses.

8. Is it acceptable to use a prize draw as an incentive for people to participate? Yes, if the draw is for an item that does not promote coercion. When participants' names and contact information are requested for the draw, there must be a plan in place to protect this information and to ensure that undue influence does not occur as a result of the researcher(s) having access to the names and contact information of participants.

9. What do I need to tell participants about their right to withdraw from participation in a study?
Participants must be informed that they have the right to withdraw from a study without negative consequences. They also need to know what will happen with information they have provided prior to withdrawal.

10. Is it possible to use staff and/or student records as data? 
Yes, but only if a strict plan is in place to protect the participants and ensure that coercion and undue influence will be prevented. Contact Debbie Krebs to discuss creating such a plan. 

11. What is the difference between anonymous data and anonymized data? 
Anonymous Data: “the information never had identifiers associated with it and risk of identification of individuals is low or very low” (TCPS2, page 57.)
Anonymized Data: “the information is irrevocably stripped of direct identifiers, a code is not kept ot allow future re-linkage, and risk of re-identification of individuals from remaining indirect identifiers is low or very low” (TCPS2, p. 57).

12. Do I need to do anything special when at-risk individuals are potential participants?
Yes. Mitigation strategies need to be clearly outlined to ensure the participants’ safety, e.g. ensuring that counselling resources are in place as needed. In addition, if a person is unable to consent to participate, measures must be in place to ensure respect of their interests and choices.

Keep in mind that the TCPS2 addresses equity in vulnerable populations such that people are not excluded from research merely because they are deemed vulnerable. In addition, the TCPS2 alerts researchers that being associated with a vulnerable group does not necessarily equate to a person being vulnerable. 

13. Does the REB consider the researcher’s safety?
Yes, if researcher risk is a concern, the REB may request input from another body at TRU. 

Using the ROMEO system

TRU Romeo is a research administration tool that allows researchers and administrators to work collaboratively to manage internal and external grant applications throughout the life span of your research application. 

1. How do I access Romeo?  
Create a Romeo account. Record your user name and password as you will need them to access the system. 

2. Can more than one person work on the application in Romeo? 
Yes, you can add people on the Project Team Tab and anyone who has been identified and is registered in Romeo can see and work on the application. Only the Principal Investigator can submit the application. 

3. I have a student who will be submitting an application. Can they do it themselves? 

Yes, the student can register in Romeo and complete the application. The student will need to ensure that the supervisor is listed as a Team member and will need to declare that the supervisor has approved the application. If the supervisor is not listed or has not approved the application, the application will be sent back to the applicant without review.

4. How do I upload copies of my consent form, etc. into Romeo?
You can upload documents to support your application under the Document Tracking Tab.

5. How will I know when my application has been reviewed?
Applications are reviewed at the REB monthly meeting (last week of each month).  Any comments, revisions, or approvals are forwarded to your email address via Romeo.  

For more detailed information on Romeo, please see Romeo FAQ