Research Ethics


Research Ethics

Ethics Review is required for all research activities involving living human participants, whether conducted by students or by faculty.  The Providence Senate Ethics Committee is responsible to review research proposals according to the Terms of Reference below.  

Click here to submit your research proposal to the Providence Research Ethics Board 

Please submit your application well in advance of when you plan to begin your research.  The Committee meets 3 times annually, after each Feb 1, May 1 and Oct 1.  You can anticipate receiving your initial response within 2-3 weeks of these dates.

Questions? Contact a member of the Senate Ethics Committee:

Patrick Franklin (Chair; Providence Theological Seminary)
Morgan Mulenga (Providence University College)
Sharon Habermann (Providence Theological Seminary)



As Christian scholars engaged in research on human subjects, researchers at Providence University College & Theological Seminary are called to maintain the highest ethical standards in order to affirm and protect the inherent dignity both of ourselves and of our subjects as much as possible. While we hold this conviction in common with all such researchers, of whatever faith conviction or none, we do have specifically Christian reasons, namely: first, because all human beings are created in the image of God and are therefore to be treated with care and kindness, to acknowledge and preserve their inherent dignity; and second, because all human beings—researchers and subjects alike—have fallen from this position, the potential for the misuse and/or abuse of findings and subjects alike is, sadly, to be expected. In recognition of our inherent human dignity as creatures of God and the honest acknowledgement of our fallen state as sinners, we therefore commit ourselves, our students and our institution to maintenance of the highest ethical standards as set out below.

Research Involving Humans

The Ethics Committee becomes the Research Ethics Board once a proposal has been received for consideration.[1] In the former role, it determines policy; in its latter, it applies it. In theory, these could be two different groups; in practice, we are too small a body to implement this distinction at this time

For all research involving humans, Providence University College and Theological Seminary and its Research Ethics Board (REB) has adopted the standards specified in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans for its evaluation and approval of research studies. It is the role of the Providence REB to ensure that proposals for research and all research projects satisfy the minimum standards outlined by the Tri-Council Policy Statement. Any research involving humans must first be evaluated and approved by the REB prior to commencement.

Integrity in Research and Scholarship

Consistent with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Integrity in Research and Scholarship, Providence University College and Theological Seminary recognizes the need for the highest standards of integrity, accountability, and responsibility in research and scholarship activities. In keeping with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Integrity in Research and Scholarship, Providence University College and Theological Seminary adheres to the following principles and responsibilities:

  • recognizing the substantive contributions of collaborators and students; using unpublished work of other researchers and scholars only with permission and with due acknowledgment; and using archival material in accordance with the rules of the archival source;
  • obtaining the permission of the author before using new information, concepts or data originally obtained through access to confidential manuscripts or applications for funds for research or training that may have been seen as a result of processes such as peer review;
  • using scholarly and scientific rigor and integrity in obtaining, recording and analyzing data, and in reporting and publishing results;
  • ensuring that authorship of published work includes all those who have materially contributed to, and share responsibility for, the contents of the publication, and only those people; and
  • revealing to sponsors, universities, journals or funding agencies, any material conflict of interest, financial or other, that might influence their decisions on whether the individual should be asked to review manuscripts or applications, test products or be permitted to undertake work sponsored from outside sources.
  • promoting integrity in research and scholarship, requiring individuals who carry out these activities to adhere to the principles outlined in this section;
  • investigating possible instances of misconduct in research or scholarship, including:
    • imposing appropriate sanctions
    • informing appropriate parties (e.g., researcher, professor, student, research subject(s)) of conclusions reached and actions taken.

Investigating Allegations of Misconduct in Research and Scholarship

Should an allegation of misconduct arise, it should be brought directly to the Providence Ethics Review Board whose charge it will be to form an appropriate impartial and accountable response in keeping with Tri-Council policies. (See excerpt below from

"Allegations may arise from anonymous or identified sources within or outside the research institution; the allegations may be well founded, honestly erroneous or mischievous. Whatever their source, motivation or accuracy, such allegations have the potential to cause great harm to the persons accused, to the accuser, to the institution, and to research and scholarship in general. Each Council requires each research institution that administers its funds to demonstrate that appropriate impartial and accountable procedures have been established to:

  • receive allegations of misconduct in research and scholarship;
  • conduct and document appropriate enquiries within a period to be determined by the REB based upon the severity of the complaint and the required response (determining the timeline and informing both the complainant and the researcher of said is the REB’s first order of business upon receipt of the complaint. Processes should not normally exceed six months);
  • protect the privacy of the person(s) accused and of the person(s) making the allegations as far as is possible given the need for due process in pursuing the enquiry;
  • allow the accused person(s) due process and full opportunity to respond to the allegations throughout the enquiry through mechanisms consistent with due process and natural justice;
  • decide whether or not there has been misconduct;
  • determine the actions to be taken as a result of conclusions reached, including:
    • any sanctions imposed;
    • any actions taken to protect or restore the reputation(s) or credibility of any person(s) wrongly accused of, or implicated in, misconduct in research, including procedures to ensure that if the charges have been dismissed copies of documents and related files provided to third parties have been destroyed; and
    • any actions taken to protect the person(s) deemed to have made a responsible accusation;
  • inform the accused person(s) of the results of the enquiry and of the actions that have been decided upon; and
  • prepare a report on the above"

Categories of Expansion

There will be instances when the REB will seek outside help in their evaluation of research proposals. Such instances include the following:

  • In case of any actual or potential conflicts of interest, such as considering a proposal in which they have an interest as researchers or supervisors, no member of the committee will adjudicate on such matters. In this case, the committee will seek help from outsiders.
  • Help will also be sought when at least one committee member is unable to attend full committee meetings.
  • At the request of the REB, the Chairperson may invite individuals with competence in special areas to assist in the review of issues that require expertise beyond or in addition to that available on the ethics committee.
  • In cases of research proposals that have a direct or indirect impact on the community that Providence University College and Theological Seminary serves, the Tri-Council Policy Statement advocates the inclusion of “at least one person not affiliated with the organization” [Article 1.3(d)]. This “community representation” will be essential in broadening the perspective and value base of the committee and thus advance dialogue and accountability to the local community on that particular issue in the proposed research.
  • When the REB determines that the proposal poses more than a minimal risk to subjects, the researcher(s) and/or Providence University College & Theological Seminary (the standard of minimal risk is defined by the Tri-Council Policy Statement, article C1).
  • When expansion takes place, the REB will do all it can to maintain gender balance.


Conflict of Interest

If a member of the REB is reviewing research in which a member has a personal interest in the research under review (e.g., as a researcher or as an entrepreneur), conflict of interest principles require that the member not be present when the REB is discussing or making its decision. The member may disclose and explain the conflict of interest and offer evidence to the REB, provided the conflict is fully explained to the REB, and the proposer of the research has the right to hear the evidence and to offer a rebuttal.

Annual Review

The TOR will be reviewed annually in May to ensure that they continue to adhere to the latest standards set by the policies of the Tri-Council.


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