How and when should you apply for ethical review of research
The general principles of ethical review of research in Finland
Ethical review of research can only be carried out before data is collected. Hence an ethical review statement cannot be issued after the research has begun. Ethical review of research is a statement about the ethical acceptability of the research.
The researcher is always responsible for the ethical and moral solutions made in the research. Submitting the research for ethical review never transfers this responsibility to the ethics committee.
The researcher must be familiar with and comply with the data protection legislation in force and with the research-related data protection guidelines issued by Aalto University.
Theses supervisors are responsible for ensuring that their supervisees are familiar with the ethical principles, but the writer of the thesis is responsible for their work being ethical. If ethical review is necessary, the statement request shall be prepared jointly by the student and the supervisor.
Failure to apply for an ethical review , if it should have been applied for according to the national guidelines, constitutes an infringement of the responsible conduct of research (RCR). (see link below)
In addition to a favourable research ethics statement, you may need a research permit, for example from the research site or location (city, company, etc.) before you can start collecting data.
The researcher may request an official description of the guidelines and practices of Finland from the secretary of the Research Ethics Committee of Aalto University, if, for example, the publisher requests an ethical review of the research, where an ethical review was not necessary according to the national guidelines (an ex post statement).
Look up the following video on Ethical review in human sciences in Finland:
by Finnish National Board on Research Integrity TENK and Linda Saukko-Rauta/Redanredan Oy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
When do you need ethical review for your research?
You will get the best understanding of the national guidelines when you read the guidelines yourself, they are is clear and quick to read. (see link above)
If you answer “yes” to any of the following points, you need to apply for an ethical review. Keep in mind that the funder and / or publisher may also request an evaluation. The ethical review must be done BEFORE any collection of research data. Be sure to request ethical review well in advance of the planned start of the study
- Deviation from the principle of informed consent for participation in research occurs where the participation is not voluntary, or the participants are not given sufficient or correct information about the research (if for example the nature of the research demands this kind of research design).
- When the research deviates from the principle of informed consent, it must be ensured that
- research participants are appropriately informed of the processing of their personal data where the research design so permits
- the research is justified and could not be carried out if participants were asked to consent to participating in the research
- data collection does not cause damage or harm to participants
- the real content and purpose of the study are explained to participants as soon as this is possible in view of the research.
- Intervening in physical integrity for research purposes may include, for example, measuring physical condition, taking physiological samples, eating dietary products or restricting physical freedom, e.g. using technology, so that research participants have no opportunity to stop their participation in the research of their own free will within a reasonable period of time.
- When research intervenes in physical integrity, it is necessary to check whether this is a case that must be evaluated under the Medical Research Act (488/1999) or research that falls within the remit of a human sciences ethics committee. In case of medical research please contact the HUS ethics committees. https://www.hus.fi/tutkijalle/tutkimuseettiset-toimikunnat/Sivut/default.aspx (in Finnish)
Aalto University Research Ethics Committee does not evaluate medical research.
- At least one of the following criteria must be met in order to conduct research on minor under age of 15 without parental consent:
- The research focuses on issues of which sufficient research information cannot be obtained if the participation of children requires the consent of the parent or carer (e.g. domestic violence, social problems and similar).
- The research focuses on issues that minor participants do not themselves want their parents or carers to know about (e.g. drug or alcohol use, sexual orientation and similar).
- Exceptionally strong stimuli for participants may be, for example, data containing violence or pornography which the participants will be shown as part of the research design.
- Exceptionally strong stimuli may also be involved in research designs in which the participants are deliberately presented with ideas and data that are completely incompatible with their values.
- A risk of causing mental harm that exceeds the limits of normal daily life to the research participants or their family members or others closest to them may arise, for example, if the research is associated with traumatic experiences of research participants or their family members or others closest to them.
- Research situations can and may, however, include mental strain and emotional experiences similar to situations of everyday life.
A threat to the safety of research participants or researchers or their family members or others closest to them may arise, for example, in research into domestic violence or in research conducted in crisis situations or areas.
At what stage of research process do I need to apply for ethical review?
- When ethical review is necessary (see previous section), a request for an ethical statement should be made when the research has received funding or its implementation has been decided upon, and in any case before data collection.
- Be sure to request ethical review well in advance of the planned start of the study
- Ethical review cannot be done afterwards (ex post)!
How do I apply for ethical review of your research?
Next instruction on filling in the research ethics statement request e-form are presented. Look up instruction on the e-form as well, and do not hesitate to ask for help from the committee secretary.
Read first thrugh the whole e-form, some questions are returned to with more detailed questions
Note, instructions for participant compensations has changed: Hourly-paid teaching and remuneration policy for teaching and research | Aalto University
- The form requires Aalto staff IDs
- The form can be processed by several people
- You can request to work on a “Word” template form from the committee secretary
- Information sheet of the study to the study subject
- Consent to Participate in Research, templates
- Privacy Notice, templates
- You may also need to carry out an assessment of the impact of the processing of personal data on the data subjects (DPIA),
Templates for attachments can be found through links above. Remember that these are templates, i.e. go through and customize to fit them your own research setting.
If you need help to fill in the privacy notice contact your school's layer. Remember that the documents shared with participants should be in a language they understand and use
Please add you attachments in pdf format
Check that there is no ambiguity in the form and annexes, that you have answered all the questions (if the question does not apply to your research set-up, report it in that section) and that there are no inconsistencies in the answers and annexes .
Doing your thesis and ethical review - how to act?
Thesis supervisors, especially for doctoral and master's degrees, are responsible for ensuring that their supervisees become familiar with the ethical principles, but the author of the thesis is responsible for the ethics of his or her work. If ethical review is necessary, the student shall apply for it together with his / her supervisor.
You cannot access the e form with Student IDs. You can request a working version of the form as a Word document from the committee secretary, review the form with your supervisor, and seek advice from the committee secretary if necessary. Your supervisor must be marked on the form under (PI / supervisor) and the form will be entered into the system by your supervisor.
If you do not agree with the statement received?
If the person who has requested an ethical review statement does not accept the proposed changes in the statement or the decision of the human sciences ethics committee, they may request a statement on the matter from TENK. The request for a statement, including the grounds for requesting a statement, must be submitted within two months of the ethics committee’s decision
I have received a research ethics statement, but my research plan or some other thing has changed - what to do?
Send by e-mail to the committee secretary
- Information about the number and name of the ethical statement and when you received it
- What has changed, concisely and precisely
- Previous form where you have clearly marked the changes (pdf / link to the form in the system)
The chairman of the committee will assess whether the change requires a new statement request for the committee, a new evaluation by reviewers or whether the change is so small that it can be approved by a chair decision.
Secretary of the Research Ethics committee Senior Advisor Annukka Jyrämä, [email protected]
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The material supports introductory courses in doctoral studies to familiarize students with the topic of research integrity and ethics, focusing on the practicalities of being a responsible researcher using Aalto guidelines and practices. Login to MyCourses to access the materials.