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The ethical review of research

Ethics Committee of Youth and Childhood Studies offers ethical assessments of non-medical studies.

Ethics Committee of Youth and Childhood Studies offers ethical assessments of non-medical studies that do not fall within the scope of operation of the ethics committee of the local hospital district in accordance with the Medical Research Act (488/1999).

The Ethics Committee serves researchers working for the Finnish Youth Research Society and researchers who cannot be provided with an assessment by an ethics committee in their respective organisations. Researchers requesting a statement must be members of the Finnish Youth Research Society or the Finnish Society for Childhood Studies.

The Ethics Committee will not process an application if the applicant is working for an organisation that can provide them with a preliminary ethical assessment (e.g. researchers or doctoral students preparing a dissertation at a university) or if their application is already being considered by the ethics committee of another organisation.  Applications must always be submitted in advance, before the research project starts.

Preliminary ethical assessments are provided for postgraduate research and beyond. In the event of extensive research projects that, for example, include several Master’s theses, the application for a preliminary ethical assessment must concern the project as a whole rather than individual studies. In such cases, the application is made by the head of the research project.

The Ethics Committee adheres to the principles of ethical review of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity. These include:

  1. Respecting the autonomy of the research subjects
  2. Avoiding harm
  3. Ensuring privacy and data protection

Researchers should familiarise themselves with these principles before planning their research projects and requesting a statement.  Statements will not be provided after the research project has been completed.

When does a research project require ethical review?

Research projects related to human sciences must be reviewed if any of the following conditions are met:

  1. The study involves an intervention in the physical integrity of subjects.
  2. The study deviates from the principle of informed consent. However, ethical review is not required if the research is based on public documents, registers or archived data.
  3. The subjects are children aged under 15, the study is not part of the normal activities of a school or an institution of early childhood education and care, and the data are collected without parental consent and without providing the parents or guardians with an opportunity to forbid the child from taking part in the study.
  4. The study exposes research subjects to exceptionally strong stimuli, and evaluating possible harm requires special expertise (e.g. studies containing violence or pornography).
  5. The study may cause long-term mental harm (e.g. trauma, depression, sleeplessness) beyond the risks encountered in normal life.
  6. The study can signify a security risk to subjects (e.g. studies concerning domestic violence).

A researcher can also request a statement from an ethics committee if:

  • the research subject, the funding agency or a cooperation partner so requires, or
  • the results are to be published in a scientific journal that requires ethical review.