Research Ethics and Data Management Committee
Within the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD), the Research Ethics and Data Management Committee (REDC) assesses research proposals involving human participants on the matters of research ethics, privacy, and data management before data collection has taken place.
The following guidelines are leading:
- The Dutch Code for Research Integrity;
- The Dutch Code for research ethics in Social and Behavioral Research;
- The European privacy laws;
- Tilburg University's Research Data Management regulations.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to check whether assessment by the REDC is necessary and to submit an application. If you are not sure whether your proposal meets the criteria for assessment you can consult the REDC by e-mail before submitting a request for assessment.
Caution! From March 21, 2022 until further notice, the REDC has paused its participation in the online submission system G.E.D. Started. Applications for ethical evaluation can be submitted through the old procedure (see below).
Types of applications
Regular members of TSHD staff and PhD candidates
Submitting an application
You fill out the application form and submit this through firstname.lastname@example.org. After review by the committee's secretary, the application will be submitted to at least two committee members. The applicant then receives the reviewers' conclusions by mail through the secretary. The procedure usually takes about one month.
TSHD has temporarily withdrawn its participation in submission tool G.E.D. Started! (from March 21 until further notice)
As of academic year 2021-2022, TSHD would be using the newly developed tool G.E.D. Started! to evaluate research proposals. The application would contain the digitalised questionnaires with both the application process as well as the evaluation procedure taking place within the tool. Unfortunately, the tool has not been working as we had hoped and anticipated. Over the past months, we have encountered numerous issues that have caused serious problems and delays in the application and evaluation process of researchers’ applications. The REDC has therefore decided to temporarily go back to the old procedure and process evaluation request through the old form (see above). However, applications that have already been submitted in G.E.D. Started! will be processed in the tool.
For applications that have been drafted and saved in G.E.D. Started! , it is recommended to copy-paste all saved text in the application form and submit the completed form following the procedure stated above. In case this causes any problems, please reach out to the secretary of the REDC via: email@example.com.
An approved application
Upon approval of an application, the REDC provides the applicant with a 'Declaration of Ethical Clearance,' which is valid for the period stated in the proposal. For changes with ethical implications, researchers are required to submit an amendment to the secretary of the REDC. Please note that ethical clearance cannot be provided once data collection has started.
Filing a complaint
Applicants who disagree with the conclusions or procedures of the REDC are encouraged to file a complaint with its secretary per mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research by BA/MA students
To determine whether the REDC can evaluate student research projects, supervisors can use this flowchart.
The REDC expects that both supervisor and student adhere to responsible research practices, and encourages ethical reflection, data management, and GDPR compliance to be part of the supervision. Therefore, the REDC does in principle not review student research, as this is regarded as a shared responsibility of student and supervisor. Supervisors can use this checklist to evaluate student projects.
- There are two exceptions:
- The student's research is part of the research line of the supervisor.
- The supervisor and student intent to publish the student's research in a journal that requires ethical clearance of the student's research.
- If one of the two criteria stated above are met, the supervisor and student can apply through the application form.
- Approval cannot be obtained after a study has been started or conducted.
Research projects can start once ethical clearance has been given by the Research Ethics and Data Management Committee. It is, however, possible that certain aspects of the originally approved proposal are changed along the way. For instance, a different group of participants will participate in the project or questions are added to the originally approved questionnaire. Once something will be changed that might influence participation in the project, the researchers need to submit an amendment to the committee, which specifies what will be changed in the project design.
Applications submitted before September 1, 2021
In case an application has been submitted to the committee before September 1, 2021, you can submit an amendment by sending an e-mail to the REDC-secretary. Attach in this mail the originally approved application form and indicate (using tracked changes) what is changed or added to the original proposal.
- The Research Ethics and Data Management Committee (REDC) assists researchers in safeguarding the dignity, rights, safety, and well-being of research participants. It helps them adhere to the Code of Ethics for Research Involving Human Participants, to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, and to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It also provides advice on FAIR Data Management.
- The REDC provides researchers with the opportunity to apply for review of their research design before data collection, by means of an application form that addresses research ethics, privacy, and data management. At least two members of the REDC evaluate each application, with great precision. The REDC does not provide post-hoc approval for data that have already been collected.
- The REDC encourages adherence to Open Science practices in its reviews, as it believes that research output is the result of collaboration and belongs to the academic and non-academic community.
- The REDC holds researchers themselves responsible for how they conduct their research, and sees itself as supportive and instructive. Instead of outlining how they should or should not conduct their research, the REDC provides advice on responsible research practices, relevant to an applicant’s study design and proposed procedures.
- The REDC expects and trusts, in principle, that all individual researchers have high professional standards with respect to research ethics and academic integrity, and seek the advice from the REDC when they have questions or concerns in this regard. Therefore, the committee does not see a necessity to conduct audits on the work of individual researchers after they have concluded their research.
- Even though the REDC understands its role as a think-tank rather than being the TSHD’s integrity police, the committee is able to withhold ethical clearance if it sees ethical or privacy issues in the studies for which researchers have requested ethical clearance.
- The Research Ethics and Data Management Committee of the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences is mandated by the Dean to review whether research proposals meet with ethical and legal requirements (see above).
- The Dean appoints a full professor for three years as chair to the committee. The chair nominates committee members representing all departments in consultation with the vice-Dean of research, who will be appointed by the Dean for two years. The number of Fte required for these positions is calculated by the estimated development of the number of review applications and time spent on research at TSHD. This time will be made available by the faculty board and allocated over the departments based on their respective share in the total amount of expected research time.
- The Dean determines whether the appointment of the chair can be renewed; the REDC-chair determines, in consultation with the Heads of Department and vice-Dean of research whether the appointment of regular members will be renewed.
- The chair, vice-dean of research, and head of the research support staff appoint the executive secretary to the committee, who is responsible for pre-reviewing each application, handles the committee’s administration, and writes the annual report to the faculty board. The secretary will be the point of contact for researchers and is part of the research support staff. Preferably, the secretary is also appointed as the faculty’s data steward.
- TiU-based researchers can only apply for ethical clearance by filling out the online application form before data collection. The REDC does not review applications or provide post-hoc approval once data collection has already taken place.
- In principle, the REDC does not evaluate student research projects that solely have an educational purpose.
- The secretary pre-reviews each application within one week after submission. Once an application is admissible, it will be sent to at least two independent reviewers who have no interest in the outcome of the evaluation. The reviewers will respond to the secretary within two weeks and will indicate whether and under which conditions the application can be approved. The secretary informs the applicant within one week about the REDC’s evaluation. Once an application has been approved, data collection can start. The secretary and chair sign a ‘letter of ethical clearance’ to formalize the approval. In case of applications in which the chair is involved, the secretary and vice-Dean of research sign the ‘letter of ethical clearance’.
- Researchers can submit an amendment to extend or change an earlier approved application. The secretary determines whether new ethical or legal issues arise from the amendment and judges whether it can be approved immediately or whether it needs to be reviewed. The secretary and chair sign a ‘letter of ethical clearance’ to formalize the approval of the amendment.
- If a researcher disagrees with the reviewers, they can file a written complaint with the secretary. The chair evaluates this complaint and determines whether the earlier decision should be overturned and under which conditions. If disagreement persists, the Dean decides and elucidates in written form whether an earlier decision should be overturned and, if so, under which conditions.