Research Ethics Board

The purpose of AUArts' Research Ethics Board (REB) is to ensure research involving human or animal subjects meets basic ethical standards, minimizes risk and mitigates harm.

What does the REB do?

The REB provides a framework to allow researchers to consider the ethical dimensions of research involving human participants and animal subjects, and support for developing research within this framework. Beyond these parameters, it is not the function of the REB to make value judgments on any other aspects of proposals, or to serve as a censorship body. The REB's scope is limited to activities defined as research that involve human or animal subjects.

What are AUArts' research standards?

Like other Canadian degree-granting art and design programs and institutions, AUArts' basic standards for research on human participants are guided by the principles set out by Canada’s Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. These principles include:

  1. Respect for human dignity
  2. Respect for free and informed consent
  3. Respect for vulnerable persons
  4. Respect for privacy and confidentiality
  5. Balancing harms and benefits

The use of animal subjects at AUArts is subject to relevant laws, regulations and university policies. More broadly, on the ethical considerations involving the use of animals in creative practices and research, the REB is informed by the College Art Association’s guidelines, The Use of Animal Subjects in Art: Statement of Principles and Suggested Considerations.

How does the REB define research?

For research involving human subjects, the REB is guided by the following basic considerations to determine whether a particular project is research, and if so, whether it requires REB review and approval:

  • Research is defined as an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquire or systematic investigation. 
  • Creative practice is a process through which an artist makes or interprets work of works of art.

Creative practice activities, in and of themselves, do not require REB review. However, research that employs creative practice to obtain responses from participants that will be analyzed to answer a research question is subject to REB review. Creative practices such as photography, film, body painting, performance, and collaborations that involve human participants normally do not require REB review. That said, the REB recommends that artists who are working with humans as subjects (e.g. capturing the image or sound of another person for artistic use) seek the consent of those subjects as this is good practice. An informed consent facilitates participant’s understanding of their role in creative practice and the art work’s future uses and dissemination. A consent form template recommended by the REB is located below:

>>> AUArts Informed Consent Release Form

The REB also acknowledges existing cultural conventions in areas of art where notice of the capturing of participants’ images and/or the use of consent forms may be incompatible with the creative process. Artists who choose not to obtain participant consent for a creative practice are urged to consider possible implications of their decision. Chapter 3 of the TriCouncil Policy Statement 2 (2014) Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans provides guidance relating to research and consent, which may be useful.  Creative practices that may not require REB review and research that requires REB review are governed by the applicable university policies and regulations, by municipal, provincial, and national laws, and by the ethical standards practiced in the wider cultural community.

How do I know if my project requires REB review?

If the primary purpose of your activity is research and not creative practice, and if it involves the use of human participants or animal subjects, it requires REB review and approval before it can proceed.

The REB and the Research Advisory Committee has developed a Research Ethics Application to help determine whether a particular activity requires REB review and approval.