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What is Research Ethics?

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) defines research as “any scientific undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation.”

Research ethics review is a process of initial and ongoing review and monitoring of research involving human participants in ensure ethical acceptability.
The process requires the independent evaluation of all proposed research by an independent committee of people with varied backgrounds who use their knowledge and expertise to examine the research study from the perspective of prospective participants.

The underlying core principle that the research ethics review is guided by is the respect for human dignity. Respect for human dignity is expressed through the three core principles - Respect for Persons, Concern for Welfare, and Justice.

Respect for Persons

Respect for persons recognizes the intrinsic value of human beings and the respect and consideration that they are due; considers how people of all ages are treated as research participants; incorporates the moral obligations to respect autonomy; and protects those with developing, impaired or diminished autonomy.

Concern for Welfare

Concern for Welfare considers the impact on individuals of factors including physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as their physical, economic and social circumstances; encompasses factors including privacy and control of information about the person and the assessment of foreseeable risks and benefits; and the treatment of data and human biological materials according to the free, informed and ongoing consent of the person who was the source of the information and materials.


Justice which recognizes the obligation to treat people fairly and equitably.