Research Ethics

Dealing Ethically with Human Participants:

Art installation by Yvonne Singer, 1997

Art installation by Yvonne Singer, 1997

Any student or unpaid contributor (experiment subjects, interviewees, etc.) who consents to be “used” in a research or a creative project in the academic context is a “human participant” and must be treated ethically. From this point of view, it does not matter whether the project is led by a student or by a faculty member, whether it is scholarly research or artistic creation, whether it is funded or not. When it comes to fundamental rights, we must all face our responsibilities.

Two notable exceptions:

(a) Research about a famous individual involved in the public arena and based exclusively on publicly available information, documents or performances, is not required to undergo ethics review. However, interviews of public persons and artists do require an ethics review certifying appropriate professional standards for the interview process.

(b) Performers when engaged in performance based activities are, in general, not subject to ethics review. Voluntary participants should provide informed consent, however, to any performance expectations that are beyond the norm for the discipline (for example, nudity).

If you have any questions about Research Ethics or require assistance, please contact Alison Collins (Manager, Research Ethics at ext.55914 or, or visit the York Research Ethics website.