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Frequently Asked Questions about ethics applications

  • I will be interviewing a number of people/doing a survey. Will I need an ethics approval for this activity?
    You will need an ethics approval if the activity is being carried out as scientific research. Such activity is usually carried out with the intent to publish the outcome of the analysis of the data gathered. You will not need an ethics approval, for example, if you want to carry out a survey to help you improve a university service (and you do not intend to publish the results).
  • How long does the approval process take?
    The initial application must be submitted in electronic form so that it may be sent to the Committee members right away. It may take approximately a week to ten days for the members to respond to the application. If objections or requests for clarifications are received during this period, the applicant is informed of these points, and a modified version of the application material is requested. This modified form of the application is now presented to the members for their review. Each such round of modification/review may add up to a week to the approval time. Once the members agree to approve the application, the applicant is requested to hand in an initialed/signed hard-copy of the application material, so that an approval form can be prepared. The form will have to be signed by the Committee members, which may take another few days.
  • If I make a (“small”) change in the procedure/survey I am using, can I use the same approval form?
    The complete application (including the title, consent form, copy of the survey, etc.) is appended to the approval form, and the form clearly states that the approval is for the content within the appended material. If there are changes to this content, the approval form is then not valid. It is then your responsibility decide whether the changes are significant enough to warrant a new application. (Informing the Committee that you have made a few changes in the application is not appropriate. You will have to re-apply with all application materials. You may then indicate that this is a modification to a previously approved application and point out the modifications, to help the committee members and speed things up.) Better yet, it is best to make sure that you have finalized your procedure before you apply for approval.
  • I already have an ethics approval from some other institution’s committee. Will I need to obtain an ethics approval from Bilkent as well if I am affiliated with Bilkent or if the subject of my study involves Bilkent?
    In general, an ethics approval from another university’s ethics committee should be sufficient to carry out your research. Sometimes bodies associated with the way research is carried out (such as the researcher’s home institution, the organization providing financial support, or the publisher) may impose the requirement that the ethics approval should come from the “local” (to the researcher or the participants) organization as well. In such cases, it is up to the researcher to decide whether to apply for Bilkent ethics approval or not. You will of course need to obtain the relevant permissions from the administrators of the organizations whose resources or information that you may need to access.
  • I will need to obtain an ethics approval from a professional ethics committee. Will I need to obtain ethics approval from Bilkent as well?
    Comments on the previous question are valid for this question too. Bilkent Ethics Committee for Research with Human Participants will review and grant approvals based on general principles of ethics. If your research requires the approval of a professional ethics (e.g. for medical or animal experimentation) committee, and you also want ethics approval from the Bilkent committee, it is best that you first obtain the professional approval, and include this information in your application to the Bilkent committee. This is because, members of the Bilkent committee will be much more comfortable in granting approval to a procedure which has obtained professional approval. Our committee is not structured with the expertise and authority necessary to assess the propriety of such research.
  • Is “Informed Consent” necessary in all research?
    You may apply for an ethics approval without Informed Consent for your research activity if

    • your research activity involves only observation or surveys with no demand for any personal information, i.e., if the personal information would appear only on a would-be consent form,
    • AND the structure and the number of the responses to your activity are such that no information about the individual participants can be extracted from the overall results you will be reporting,
    • AND there are no perceivable risks to the participants due to your study.

    You should then be providing the participants with an information sheet (attach a copy to your application) about the nature and the aims of your study, possibility of the publication of the results, and how the participants can access the results if they so wish. This information sheet should be in a format which may easily be converted into a form for obtaining Informed Consent, if the Committee declines your request for waiving Informed Consent.