The Preliminary Assessment of Non-medical Research at the University of Turku
An ethical assessment has to be conducted with all non-medical research where participation can cause either direct or indirect injury to the human subject.
The comment is requested by the person who is in charge of the research and selected by the research team. The person in charge of the research is usually the main researcher of the study (e.g. graduate student writing the dissertation) or the leader of the research project.
With basic degree theses (Bachelor’s and Master’s theses), the supervisor makes the request for comment if he or she degrees it necessary because of the nature of the research.
The person in charge of the research has to request a comment from the Ethics Committee:
- If the purpose of the research is to have a physical, mental or social effect on the subject, which can cause injury to the participant.
- If the subject might experience physical, mental or social injury as a side-effect of the research.
An ethical assessment has to be made with all non-medical research that involves human beings as research subjects and can cause either direct or indirect injury to the participants.
The injury can be physical, mental, social or economic and is against the subject’s (which can also be a group, organisation or other juristic person) interest and rights.
The injury can be, for example, physical or mental damage, a break up in social relationships or a hindrance to the subject’s studies or employment possibilities. Additionally, poor data protection can also injure the subject in many ways.
The field of research
Ethical assessment concerns especially fields such as nursing science, physical education, psychology and social work. However, all research where the methods can cause injury to human subjects in the manner mentioned above are ethically assessed. This applies to all fields of research at the different faculties of the University of Turku.
Natural scientific research involving human subjects is usually medical in nature (the definition of medical research in the Medical Research Act) and is assessed by the ethics committee of the hospital district. However, some studies are not considered medical research and therefore not assessed by the ethics committee of the hospital district. This kind of research is conducted, for example, in the science of nutrition.
If the case is unclear, the researcher can ask for advice from the Turku Clinical Research Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org) to determine if the research falls under the assessment of the ethics committee of the hospital district or not.
The level of research
Preliminary ethical assessment has to be carried out with doctoral dissertations and other scientific research that involve human beings as research subjects and meet the criteria mentioned above. Ethical assessment does not have to be carried out with basic degree theses (Bachelor’s and Master’s theses) unless the supervisor of the thesis degrees it necessary.
In some fields of science (e.g. nursing science) the practices can be different and are sufficient as such. In these cases, the thesis supervisor is responsible that the basic degree research is conducted according to the good scientific practice.
The use of national registers for research purposes is regulated by the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the Personal Data Act, and the Act on the Openness of Government Activities.
Register researches that involve delicate information can be conducted if the researcher has been given permission to use the register by the authority controlling it (e.g. National Institute for Health and Welfare, Population Register Centre, Legal Register Centre, Stakes or Ministry of Social Affairs and Health).
Ethical assessment does not have to be carried out with basic degree theses (Bachelor’s and Master’s theses) unless the supervisor of the thesis degrees it necessary.
In some fields of science (e.g. nursing science) the practices can be different and are sufficient as such. In these cases, the thesis supervisor is responsible that the basic degree research is conducted according to the good scientific practice. The supervisor must also ensure that the student is familiar with good scientific practice and the procedure for handling misconduct.
If the Ethics Committee gives an unfavourable comment, the research plan has to be changed according to the instructions on the comment. The revised research plan has to be presented to the committee by filling in a new request for comment form. The researcher has to enclose a covering letter where the changes to the research plan are explained and described.
You can send the form by email or by mail to the Secretary of the committee, Taru Wester.
Tel: +358 (0)2 333 5658
At the moment, the form and filling guidelines are available only in Finnish. (English information will be added later.)