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Research Ethics

The Sociology Student Research Ethics Committee (SSREC)

The Sociology Student Research Ethics Committee (SSREC) reviews and approves submissions for course student projects. If Sociology Instructors will be asking students to do research or project work in their course that involves collecting data from humans, (such as questionnaires, interviews, participant observations), you need to submit an application to the SSREC. This is to comply with Canada's Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Policy to ensure that projects involving humans are conducted ethically.

The course application form and process for instructors can be found at this webpage:

The guidelines for course instructors can be found here:

The SSREC's terms of reference and other guidelines can be found here:

More individualistic student research, like honours thesis or independent studies, use an individual application form that the student must complete with the instructor's supervision. The SSREC will also review these applications. In the course guidelines, within certain parameters, course instructors can approve individual student research that is part of a course.  Otherwise the SSREC will review it.  The form is found at this link:

Course-based  applications that were approved in previous years are valid for up to three years before requiring resubmission, barring any substantial changes.

Applications and Deadlines

There is no DEADLINE to SUBMIT APPLICATIONS for the Fall term but projects should not begin until ethics approval is obtained.  Applications, therefore, should be submitted as soon as possible in early September to allow the committee to review them.

Please submit your completed application to the SREC secretary, Michael Wilson, at , or to GH-305/H, telephone ext. 23142, FAX:905-540-8019
If you have any questions about renewing your application or how to fill out the form, you can contact Michael Wilson or the Chair of SSREC, or Dr. David Young. 

Dr. David Young, Chair of the SSREC committee,
Department of Sociology,
KTH-629, EXT. 23615,

Frequently Asked Questions:

We would like to give you some brief information on the reasons for establishing the Sociology Student Research Ethics Committee (SSREC) and request your cooperation in completing the course application form.

Who should read this memo and complete the form?

All instructors teaching undergraduate Sociology courses who have student research as part of the course requirement.  Ph.D. or M.A. student thesis research is not considered by this committee.

What is a student project requiring ethics review?

Collection of not-publicly available data on/about individuals/organizations through any form of communication to be used as part of course requirement.

What are the Tri-Council’s primary concerns for Sociology student research?

  1. Obtaining voluntary informed consent from participants and protecting privacy and confidentiality
  2. Over-intrusiveness by student researchers of individual research respondents.
  3. Vulnerable communities, i.e., ethnic minorities, aboriginal peoples, children, people with disabilities

Why was the SSREC established and what is its role?

The SSREC was established in response to the University’s obligation under the Tri-Council (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Policy to ensure that student research projects involving humans are conducted ethically. The University’s continued research funding is tied to its ethical research practices at all levels, including students’ own research for their course requirements.  

The SSREC is here to assist you in fulfilling these obligations and approve your student research ethics application. Do not perceive this process as an intrusion into your course design and individual instructor freedom. This is an internally and self-controlled checks-and-balances system.

How much work is involved in this application?

Very little work is involved. Each instructor completes one "generic" form per course that has a student research component. The form can be completed in about 30 minutes, with accompanying documentation. Students do not complete the form, instructors do. Complete one form per course, regardless of the number of students enrolled in the course. You might want to inform your students on the course outline of the research ethics web site.

McMaster Research Ethics

Documents to consult:

Policy for the Sociology Student Research Ethics Committee:

The Tri-Council Policy Statement:

Michael J. Wilson
Research Ethics Officer, McMaster University
1280 Main St. W. GH-305/H
Hamilton, Ont. L8S 4L8
TEL:905-525-9140 x23142    FAX:905-540-8019

McMaster Research Ethics