Ethics approval - application

The deadline for submitting an application to the Ethics Committee is always the 15th of each month (midnight) in order to receive feedback before the 15th of the following month. There is no deadline in July: all applications submitted between 16 June and 15 August are reviewed in September.

How do you apply for ethics approval?

-    the actual research instrument (e.g. the questionnaire, the interview guide, ...)

-    the information letter for potential participants (template/example)

-    the informed consent form (template)

-    the possible approval by another ethics committee

-    the submitted Data Management Plan (more information) and the GDPR record (if personal information is requested and/or processed)

When do you need ethics approval?

If there are doubts about the ethical acceptability of the research, you should ask the faculty ethics committee for advice. This is the case when ...

  • vulnerable groups are being worked with *
  • sensitive information is being requested *
  • personal information is requested and/or processed *
  • audio and/or video recordings are made *
  • medical experiments are performed on people *
  • working with laboratory animals
  • military or terrorist applications are possible
  • or (in all other cases) when the financier (or a publisher) expects an ethics approval

In the cases indicated with *, you will, as a rule, have to work with an informed consent (more information)

Ethics approval for master's dissertations?

Master's dissertation students do not have to request approval from the faculty ethics committee. An application is only recommended if the students (and supervisors) would like to use the results for a scientific publication.

However, students (and their supervisors) must follow the guidelines below for empirical research within the framework of their master's dissertation:

  • Master's dissertation students as a rule do not conduct independent research with vulnerable persons (e.g. persons with dementia, psychologically fragile adolescents, refugees) and also do not interview people independently about sensitive themes (e.g. abuse, addiction, ...) and/or subjects that can have psychological or emotional consequences (e.g. interviews about sexual violence).
  • Minors belong to the category of vulnerable people and are therefore in principle excluded from master's dissertation research. An exception to this is educational projects, such as in the context of a Master of Science in Teaching, provided that proper supervision is provided (e.g. by the school teacher, by the internship supervisor, etc.).

If master's dissertation students do choose a group or theme that conflicts with the above rules, the necessary guidance and support must be provided by the supervisors. Two points should be taken into account here:

  • Before permission is given for the research, it should be checked whether alternatives exist. Often, such research can also be done with non-susceptible persons (e.g. interview techniques can also be practiced on fellow students) or substantive themes can also be thoroughly examined by studying literature or questioning, e.g. social workers.
  • The students have to work out a protocol for their research containing all relevant elements (recruitment, consent, questionnaire, ...) and this protocol has to be checked and approved by the supervisor(s) before the research can start. The ultimate responsibility for the research lies with the supervisor(s).

The study programmes are advised to develop a script for master's dissertations that may be ethically problematic in their discipline.