Ethics & Community Research

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2 2014) is a joint policy of Canada’s three federal research agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). TCPS2 2014 establishes and outlines ethical norms that are meant to guide Canadian researchers in the conduct of research involving humans.

All research involving living human subjects and funded by any of the three federal agencies requires ethics review and approval by a Research Ethics Board (REB) before the research commences. This requires major research institutions (universities, hospitals, etc.) to establish Research Ethics Boards which review all research proposals associated with their institution to ensure that they comply with TCPS2 requirements. Researchers affiliated with these institutions are expected to abide by the TCPS and other policies related to research integrity, privacy and other legal requirements, peer review, and conflicts of interest.

Research is increasingly being conducted by not-for-profit organizations, governments, independent consultants, community organizations, community researchers, and others. Unlike those institutions which have a Memorandum of Agreement with any of the three federal research agencies, community based researchers may not have access to institutional Research Ethics Boards. They are, however, still concerned with maintaining ethical research standards which help to ensure that no harm comes to those who choose to participate in their research.

It is that need to maintain ethical research standards in community based research that led to the establishment of the Community Research Ethics Office (CREO). We are here to assist researchers and their sponsors in understanding the principles and requirements outlined in TCPS2 2014. We do that through conducting ethical reviews of research proposals, engaging in consultations around ethical issues that arise as researchers prepare to undertake their work, and through delivering educational workshops for researchers and organizations which undertake research in support of their programs and services.

For the principles on which our work is based please see our Principles of Research Ethics chart: Principles Chart