Call for Comments- Proposed Policy Amendment: Policy #89

The current version of Policy #89 – Research and Other Studies Involving Human Subjects – was approved in 2002 and has not been substantively reviewed since then, other than a revision in May 2009 of the Procedures associated with the Policy.

The current version of Policy #89 was created in large part in order for UBC to become compliant with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans which was issued in 1998 so that UBC would continue to be eligible to receive funding from the Tri-Council granting agencies.

Over the years since its approval, the current version of Policy #89 has proven to be incompatible with the changing realities of contemporary research, and it was determined that changes needed to be made to the current version of Policy #89 in order to ensure that Policy #89 and its associated Procedures were sufficiently flexible for practical application. Also, it became necessary to update and revise Policy #89 when a second, revised version of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (“TCPS2”) was issued in December 2010.

Key elements of the proposed Policy are:

1. The term “human participant” has replaced the term “human subject” in order to reflect the fact that individuals who choose to participate in research generally play a more active role in such research than the term “human subject” conveys, and also to reflect the varied degree of involvement in research by human participants depending on the type of research being conducted.

2. UBC confirms that the research environment at UBC continues to be one in which human participants are properly protected and the following three core ethical principles, as enunciated in TCPS2, will be applied by all UBC-sanctioned research ethics boards: (1) respect for persons; (2) concern for welfare of human participants; and (3) justice.

3. UBC-sanctioned research ethics boards are mandated not only to review but also to maintain ongoing oversight of the ethical acceptability of research involving human participants that is conducted under the auspices of UBC and to apply the above-noted three core ethical principles in so doing.

4. An ethics approval issued by one UBC-sanctioned research ethics board may be recognized by all other UBC-sanctioned research ethics boards, and a research project conducted by one researcher or group of researchers at more than one UBC site shall require ethics approval from only one UBC-sanctioned research ethics board.

5. Receipt by a researcher of research ethics approval from a UBC-sanctioned research ethics board in respect of a particular research project does not necessarily mean that such research project may be commenced or continued, as in some cases, in addition to seeking research ethics approval, a researcher must also seek approvals from other UBC officials or committees or from other agencies.

6. UBC is authorized to enter into alternative ethics review agreements with other institutions in order to facilitate collaborative research projects involving researchers, data or human participants from more than one institution.

7. UBC confirms its commitment to academic freedom and independent research by stating that its core values and organizational structure together ensure that research activities that take place under UBC’s auspices are undertaken with integrity, in a manner consistent with the three core ethical principles, and free from undue interference.

8. The proposed Procedures associated with the proposed Policy have been simplified and restructured so as to become more user-friendly.

A copy of the proposed policy is attached to this e-mail. Please submit feedback to the Office of the University Counsel at university.counsel@ubc.ca by March 30, 2012.