Research ethics review

Researchers at the VU Amsterdam Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS-VU) are highly advised to review their upcoming research projects for any ethics issues.

The Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) provides guidance in dealing with these issues, first and foremost with a standardised review procedure.

Who should apply

Only research project leaders can submit research for an ethics review. PhD students and master thesis students must ask their supervisor to submit an application for review.

In exceptional circumstances, researchers from outside the faculty can submit research proposals to the RERC.

Timeline

Apply for the ethics review procedure in time: at least three months before you start collecting data!

Consider that, if your research requires a full ethics review, reviewers require ten days to study your application; the committee must subsequently discuss your application at the next monthly meeting. And if concerns remain, you may need to resubmit your application!

Before submitting a new research project for an ethics review, you should have prepared the following documents:

  1. Information for participants
  2. Consent form for participants
  3. Data management plan
  4. Research data anonymization procedure (if you collect personal or sensitive data)
  5. Short description of the research questions, the societal and scientific relevance of the research, and the research design (max. 1 A4)


The Research Ethics Review consists of the following steps.

1 - Do the online Self-Check

  1. Consult the flowchart for the elements of the Self-Check
  2. Do the online Self-Check when planning a new research project

The online Self-Check tells you whether your research requires a full ethics review. If the Self-Check concludes that your research does not require an ethics review, you will receive an email containing your Self-Check, together with a statement by the RERC that your research complies with the guidelines of FSS-VU. You can then start your research!

If the online Self-Check concludes that your research does require an ethics review, proceed with the following step.

2 - Submit the Ethics Review Application
Complete the online Ethics Review Application Form and upload the required documents: the information letter, the consent form and a data management plan.

You will receive an email message containing your submission. Save the result of your form for your own reference.

3 - Full or expedited review
If your application raises minor or no ethical issues, an expedited review will follow by the RERC secretary and one other committee member.
If your application raises serious issues, the committee will discuss your research at the next meeting. The committee meets once a month during the academic season (September – June), on the last Monday of the month.

4 - Advice
The committee will respond to your application with a formal advice. Note that the committee may ask you for clarification or further information regarding your application.

Stakeholders in research that is reviewed by the RERC can submit a complaint. The complaint procedure is as follows:

  • Persons who have a complaint about the research of employees of FSS-VU should first contact the project leader of the relevant research to see if they can reach a joint solution
  • If this does not lead to an acceptable outcome, the complainant may contact the research portfolio holder of the faculty via the Research Support Office (onderzoeksbureau.fsw@vu.nl)
  • The research portfolio holder responds to the complaint on behalf of the Faculty Board and, if desired, seeks advice from other faculty members (including the Research Ethics Review Committee and/or the head of the relevant department).
    Depending on the severity of the complaint, the portfolio holder may also decide to forward the complaint directly to the VU-VUmc comittee for scientific integrity (in Dutch)
  • If the complainant considers the response of the faculty insufficient, or at the faculty's own recommendation, the complaint can be submitted to the VU-VUmc committee for scientific integrity
  • For further guidance in the complaint procedure and in the choices to take, complainants can contact a representative for scientific integrity at VU Amsterdam (in Dutch)

Research ethics reviews are carried out by the Research Ethics Review Committee.

Contact the committee secretary for any questions:

Rob Kloppenburg
E r.a.kloppenburg@vu.nl
T +31 20 5986850 (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays)