General Inquiries for Research Participants


Mount Saint Vincent University’s Research Ethics Office has compiled these frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the perspective of participants, to provide information to participants  before and after taking part in a research study. The following Participant FAQs are meant for information and guidance purposes only. Specific questions about the research study should be directed to the appropriate Principal Investigator (PI), Research Lab, or additional research personnel part of the study which is normally found in the recruitment materials, information letter and/or the informed consent letter. For information concerning your rights as a participant, please contact

Additional information for participants in general can be found through the Panel on Research Ethics, a Government of Canada resource.

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS) instills the ethical standards for research across Canada, created by three (3) federal agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Institutions and researchers must abide by these policies as a condition of funding.

There are three (3) core principles that create the foundation for the TCPS, and in turn, that researchers must abide by:

  • Respect for Persons
  • Concern for Welfare
  • Justice

Respect for Persons includes a commitment to accountability and transparency in the ethical conduct of research. This is upheld by recognizing the intrinsic value of human beings, respecting autonomy, and ensuring freedom of choice towards participation.

Concern for Welfare ensures participants are not exposed to unnecessary risks and that researchers minimize risks associated with participation. Factors of welfare include physical, mental, and spiritual health, as well as physical, economic, and social circumstances.

Justice refers to the obligation to treat people fairly and equitably. Researchers must be aware of power imbalances between researcher and participant to avoid injustices.

For more information, please review TCPS Chapter 1: Ethics Framework.

Research Ethics Board’s (REB) are typically housed within an institution. Mount Saint Vincent University’s REB includes several in-house researchers and external community members. The purpose of the REB is to ensure each research study that is affiliated with MSVU meets the ethical requirements set out by the TCPS, including the three (3) guiding principles mentioned above in question one (1).

Researchers submit a research ethics application for each study they wish to conduct. Each application is reviewed by multiple members of the REB. Reviewers assess the application to ensure that the overall research study is ethical, and that the demands on participants are appropriate to the research question. Research studies are assessed for potential risks and benefits, with unnecessary risks minimized. Foreseeable risks with answering the research question must be balanced with benefits. Participants have the final judgement about the acceptability of risks and benefits.

A consent form or informed consent letter details the purpose of the study, the procedures and methods for data collection, any risks or benefits, and privacy and confidentiality, among other items.

The Principal Investigator (PI) or ‘lead researcher’ for the study is identified in the consent form, as well as additional research personnel or co-investigators. Their contact information is provided in this document. If you have any questions regarding the specifics of the research study, please reach out to the PI.

If you wish to participate in a research study, you must sign a consent form. Signing a consent form involves writing your signature*. However, consent can be captured in numerous ways, such as verbal consent or the completion/submission of a survey.

Consent is free, informed, and ongoing. If you have questions when reading the consent form, please ask the research study personnel to clarify any section. If you wish to withdraw from participating after you have signed the consent form, you are free to do so. The procedure for withdrawing will also be detailed in the consent form.

*Note: some studies may require you to sign a consent form multiple times throughout one research study session. When a research study requires multiple sessions, you may be asked to sign a consent form at the beginning of each session, or review orally the consent. At any point in time, you are free to withdraw from participating in the study. The informed consent will detail what happens to any of your data collected.

Each research study can take place on or off campus, as well as virtually or over the phone, depending on the study. If you are required to participate in-person at MSVU, please review the Campus Map. The specific location will be included in the consent form or will be given in some form prior to the research study session.

Listed below, in order from bottom of the hill to the top of the hill, are the main campus buildings, abbreviations for those buildings, and the corresponding number code to the Campus Map.

  • Advancement House: 8
  • Sheila A. Brown Centre for Applied Research: 7
  • Seton Academic Centre (SAC): 5
  • McCain Centre (MCC): 1
  • Rosaria Student Centre (ROS): 19
  • Evaristus Hall (EVR): 12

If you are unsure of where to go once arriving on campus, please reach out to the appropriate research study contact listed on your informed consent. In other instances, please see Security in Assisi (18 on Campus Map).

As of September 4, 2022, masks are required in small gathering spaces, including classrooms and lab spaces. Masks are not required but strongly recommended in larger, communal spaces.

If you are unable to participate in a research study session due to contracting COVID-19, please email or call the appropriate Research Lab or Principal Investigator (PI) as soon as possible.