Frequently Asked Questions
In Canada, research is commonly defined as “…a systematic investigation to establish facts, principles or generalizable knowledge,” (TCPS, 2005, p. 1.1). This definition is used in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS).There are many types of activities that can be classified as “research” and there are no definitive criteria for distinguishing a research project from one that simply resembles research.This determination can only be made on a case by case basis, but is necessary to ensure the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct, as defined in the latest Tri-Council policy statements on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (1998; 2008) and Integrity in Research and Scholarship.With regard to this question, it is the College’s responsibility to promote and ensure the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct in research, as defined in the latest Tri-Council policy statements.
- What is the problem you want to solve; or what is the question you want to answer? For example “Does using language-learning iPad apps in French as a Second Language class improve student grades and motivation?” or “What is the environmental impact of the disposal of plastic water bottles?”
- Why is this problem or question significant and important?
- How will you solve the problem or answer the question?
- Why is your solution better than what exists already?
- What concrete, specific steps or activities will you take to answer your question? You can write these as milestones with specific durations. E.g. Milestone 1: Collect and analyse existing data from community organisation (3 months)
- Why are you the ideal person to address this issue? What qualifications, experience, attributes do you have that make you and your collaborators capable of doing this work?
The Academic Dean is the highest authority in the College with overall responsibility for research. S/he is ultimately responsible for all decisions relating to policy, procedure or ethical conduct in research. On a day-to-day basis, the Dean of Academic Development and the Coordinator of Research manage and decide most matters pertaining to research.
The Coordinator of Research is available to answer any questions you may have about conducting research at Dawson.
If you are not sure whether or not your project is classified as “research,” please submit a brief description of your project, along with any existing documentation, to the Coordinator of Research at the Office of Academic Development. The Coordinator will review your project and return a with their assessment shortly thereafter.
The Tri-Council is composed of Canada’s three federal funding agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The Tri-Council has laid out the ethical guidelines and procedures for research, and publishes guidelines governing the financial administration of federal grants.
The Research Ethics Board (REB) mandated by The Board of Governors, supports researchers in their mission to maintain ethical research conduct by ensuring that guidelines specified in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduction for Research Involving Humans, the Politique sur la conduite responsable en recherche des FRQ and the Dawson College Policy on the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans are respected.
All governmental agency funds awarded to researchers are administered by Dawson College, as is the case with all educational institutions involved in research. Researchers should submit their application online through the Sharepoint Grants Management System. Clicking “Agree” on the first page indicates that you agree to comply with all Agency and Dawson policies regarding ethics approval, financial accountability and that your application is complete and accurate. The proposal will be forwarded to the Academic Dean for evaluation; s/he will ensure the proposal is consistent with Dawson College’s mission and indicates that the College will accept fiscal administration. Some agencies and private funders do not require College approval for grant submission; however, the Research Office would like to track applications to these organizations. Please contact the Coordinator of Research if you’re planning to submit an application, regardless of whether or not you need College approval.
Since 1996 Dawson College has reserved the equivalent of 3 full-time teaching equivalents (3 FTEs) to support researchers. Although priority is given to credited researchers who are funded through recognized research agencies (e.g. FRQSC, FRQNT, NSERC, SSHRC, PAREA), the College tries to support other research efforts when there are sufficient funds to do so. Faculty researchers who wish to apply for research release must prepare a letter of request. Letters of request, along with a copy of the research proposal, should be addressed to Catherine Lebel on behalf of the Dean’s Group and sent via email to the Coordinator of Research.
More information on how to apply for Release is available here.
The Dean’s Group will consider requests for release once the various funding competition results are announced.
Never written a grant before? Or are you looking for some great helpful tips for your next project?Check the links and you are well on your way!
Part of being successful in the grant application process is knowing which awarding agency best fits your discipline and / or proposed project.
There are many fantastic resources available that will help you pick the ideal grant awarding agency. Here are just a couple:
- Government of Canada: Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency
- The Community Toolbox: Applying for a Grant: The General Approach
Do you still have questions? Get in touch with the Coordinator of Research for all further queries or peer review.
I'd like to conduct a survey of my class as part of a teaching unit in my course. Do I need permission to do this?
Please note: For any issues relating to Human Ethics Review, contact the firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the REB website and read the Dawson College Policy on the Ethical Conduct of Research Involving HumansTCPS 1998, Article 1.1d / TCPS 2009, Article 2.2
The following types of research are not required to undergo ethics review under the TCPS guidelines.
- Research that relies exclusively on publicly available information about individuals or institutions.
- Research involving observation of people in public places that (1) does not allow for the identification of the individuals in research material and (2) is not staged by the researcher(s).
- Research conducted by students in fulfillment of course requirements. Though not subject to REB review, Dawson College expects teachers and departments to ensure that student research respects the ethical guidelines defined in this policy.
Someone has asked me to circulate information about a research study to my colleagues/students for purposes of recruiting study participants. Can I help them?
You can request that the person provide information about the nature of the study, including his/her REB certificate number. Contact the REB chair and the Coordinator of Research for details about the study. Use your judgment – if you have concerns, contact your Chair or Dean.
My course requires to design and carry out a survey that involves the human participants, e.g., fellow students, Dawson faculty, professionals or staff, family or community members etc… Do I or my students need approval from the R.E.B?
No. You do not need permission from the R.E.B to carry out a survey involving human participants for a course you are teaching as long as: (1) it is a part of regular teaching and assessment activities in your course; and (2) you do not use the data or information collected for any purposes other than those clearly defined for students in descriptions of the activity or the broader course requirements.
My department/program has asked me to research educational standards, practices, materials in our discipline, to inform efforts at program improvement/development. Do I need approval from the R.E.B?
TCPS 1998, Article 1.1d / TCPS 2009, Article 2.2
The following activities may, in many respects resemble research, but are not considered to be research under the TCPS definition, and are exempt from the need to undergo REB review.Quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluations, and performance reviews or testing within normal educational requirements, when used exclusively for program review, management or improvement purposes do not constitute research for the purposes of this Policy, and do not fall within the scope of REB review.
My research involves a questionnaire, and/or interviews with students/faculty/staff/key informants. Do I need approval from the R.E.B?
Yes, all research relating to human participants is subject to approval by the R.E.B.