"Without trust, research is impossible": Administrative inertia in addressing legal threats to research confidentiality

Date created: 
Researcher indemnification
Research confidentiality
Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2)
Research ethics

The last two decades have seen the development of formalized federal research ethics policies in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The focus of these policies has been researchers; comparatively little attention has been paid to the university administrations who provide the context in which those review bodies operate and whose resources are integral to protecting research participants when external threats arise. Far from being staunch defenders of academic freedom and protecting those who participate in research, university administrators in Canada have more commonly revelled in "edgy" research until the subpoena arrives, and then promptly thrown the researchers under the proverbial bus. In Canada, the federal ethics policy now requires university administrations to "support" their researchers when a legal threat arises, and "encourages" them to have policies in place that articulate how they will do so. Two years later, few policies exist. This thesis will review the record of administrative support for cases where research confidentiality is threatened, and present the results of a national survey of REB chairs, administrators, and REB staff, as to the current state of these policies and the impediments to their creation.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Ted Palys
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.