Ethical Review in Student Projects

Latest update: August 2022

Ethical review (ER) form

The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity and the derived Code of Ethics of Eindhoven University states that for both students and staff: “In their research and design, they adhere to the ethical codes for activities in which human subjects and animals are involved.”.

As of Sept 1, 2021, all students that work with users or participants should complete the ERB form offline (you can find it here) and upload it to Canvas. This form will be assessed by the responsible staff member (coach, course instructor, squad leader) to ensure ethical standards are upheld. In cases of doubt, e.g., regarding the involvement of vulnerable individuals, use of personal data or deceit is deemed necessary for the study, the responsible staff member can choose to submit this form to the ERB to have it evaluated. This process can take up to a few weeks.

In general students should (try to) remain within the ERB minimal risk guidelines.

If there are questions on this please contact your coach/supervisor first; if your questions are not answered you can contact ID.ERB@tue.nl. If you want to submit your form to the Ethics Committee, please email ethics@tue.nl.

If there are specific questions about data storage please contact ID data steward Edyta Cios at e.a.cios@tue.nl.

When to apply for an Ethical Review?

As soon as possible after the definition of the project; to do so the Benefits (for the project), Burden (for the user), Risks and Limitations of the project will need to be clear. See also separate document on this. Generally speaking, it is good to make these considerations in the early phases of a project.

You can read more information about the further procedure and process on this webpage.

What happens when you don’t have minimal risk and have applied for an ethical review?

Based on the completed Ethical Review Form, there is made a decision on the level of risk. When there is more than minimal risk, the ethics committee will review the ERB form application. This process takes approximately three weeks before receiving an approval or denial.

In case of a high risk (level 3) the content of the Ethical Review form is discussed with the Ethical Review Board. This process can take even longer.

The decisions are documented in a letter to the mentor/supervisor.

You can find the members of the Ethical Review Board and their meeting dates on this webpage.

You can also read more about this in the separate document.

If the decision is not reached within the given timeframe, can I proceed?

No.

Can you complete one ERB form that fits with your whole project (make it flexible)?

Yes, if that is possible.

How to deal with audio-recordings? Are they within minimal risk?

Please first check the “How to deal with audio-recordings” in the download files.
Yes, audio-recordings that are transcribed soon after the interviews have taken place and not saved as research data can be considered to be within minimal risk. The transcripts then can be saved as research data, but the recordings should be deleted as soon as possible. Other strategies (such as note taking) are always preferable and safer, so discuss with your coach if audio-recordings are necessary.

How does the ERB form and Ethical Process match with the design/research process?

Design research processes have to align with ethical procedures.

What can you do within your design/research process while awaiting the ethical review?

You can discuss this with your mentor/supervisor, see if it is possible to bring the risk of the project down to minimal risk. If you need further input you can contact ID.ERB@tue.nl

What happens when the review is negative? Is there an option for a retake? Is advice given on this in the letter?

Typically, concrete and manageable recommendations for improvements are made. You have to hand in the new Ethical Review Form with your changes/improvements. There is no guarantee of approval though, the timeframe might differ, based on the risk.

Is there a way to get your products tested (instead of CE Certified), to make the ERB form easier?

The ERB board does not require that research prototypes created at the TU/e, require a CE certification to be used in research studies. CE certification is a route only viable for industrial products. For products, made at the TU/e at the Department of Industrial Design, to be used in interaction with people and/or providing possible safety risks (voltage/temperature/…) a sanity check by the d-search labs is necessary. In the current situation it may be good to contact Jan Rouvroye.

In the case that you as a student work in a project with an external party (e.g. company, school), and other rules apply there; what rules do you as a student need to uphold?

You as a student need to uphold to the rules of both the university as the external party. The ERB is only concerned with upholding TU/e academic ethical standards.

What is consent and are there consent forms?

Please find more information on consent (forms) here and in the top right corner of this page. 

At what age are children/youngsters able to give consent themselves? Or are they not allowed to?

Children can give informed consent as from 16 years of age. For younger children, consent from their parents/guardians is always necessary. As children grow older it is also good practice to ask their own consent as well. This is depending also on the nature of the project.

When I want to interview someone in my direct surrounding, is a consent form necessary?

Yes.

I have a question about the Ethical Review Form, who can I ask?

You can discuss this with your supervisor/coach/mentor. If you need further input you can contact ID.ERB@tue.nl 

Self-check for ethics approval for creative sessions

Students and staff sometimes organize activities or generative/ creative sessions as part of their design research process. In most cases, such activities have been approved collectively already, provided they stay within some general boundaries. To check if your own session is already covered by the available ethics approval, please use the self-check.

Personal Data in Student Projects

What data is personal?

‘Human' or 'Personal' data is information that can be traced back to an individual (directly or indirectly)

According to GDPR (EU) AVG (NL):

  • name, identification number, location data, online identifier.
  • Physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural, social identity. This includes, under the GDPR, voice recordings

Please note: there is a difference between logistic data and research data:

  • Logistic data you need to contact the individuals, inform them and gather information
  • Research data is the actual information you need to do your research/ arrive at your conclusions.

Using data is not forbidden but you need to respect privacy with GDPR compliant processes (see below).

How to store/deal with personal data?

You can use the DataFoundry to collect, manage and store data for your research securely. For more information see this webpage: https://data.id.tue.nl.

Alternatively, you can store data collected with various means (the university recommends using Microsoft Forms for surveys and Microsoft Teams for interviews) securely at SurfDrive, connected to your TU/e account: https://www.surf.nl/en/store-and-share-your-files-securely-in-the-cloud-with-surfdrive.

Please check the “How to deal with audio-recordings” in the download files. If there are specific questions about data storage please contact ID data steward Anne Aarts at a.m.w.m.aarts@tue.nl.

Furthermore, take all these aspects into consideration when you use/collect/store personal date:

  • Store in dedicated project directory
  • Pseudonymize your data set and store the person identifiable data separately
  • Do not share identifiable personal data easily with third parties
  • Collect and store only the necessary information; clip any unnecessary information from the data set as soon as possible
  • Use personal data only for the purpose for which they are intended in the first instance
  • Do not leave personal data unattended, use a good password/lock your computer when you leave your workplace