FAQ – A pRoject Ethics Community Consensus Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions – ARECCI

Why do non-research projects require ethical review?

Projects such as quality improvement, program evaluation, needs assessment, knowledge translation often involve people and their information. Thus, there is ethical risk and potential for harms; the project lead must assess and mitigate them.

Will using the ARECCI Tools add considerable time to completing the project?

A bit of additional time is required initially, but because potential problems have been addressed before starting, the overall time may be less. Projects are often delayed if a problem surfaces part way through a project, so it is best to avoid these in the first place. Also, the tools become much easier to use, just after a few times.

Don’t you have to get approval by a research ethics board if you want to publish what you’ve found in our project?

Research journals may require approval by research ethics boards, but not necessarily. There are now many journals that publish reports about non-research projects and do not require research ethics board approval. Using the ARECCI is evidence of an ethical review satisfies various journal editors. Check with editors of specific journal if you’re not sure whether you would need approval by a research ethics board.

I follow my profession’s standards of ethics, so why isn’t that good enough when I conduct projects?

Practitioners are governed by professional associations and receive ethics guidance from them. This foundation, however, may be insufficient to address all the ethical risks in a project. For example, not everyone involved in the project may be guided by professional ethics and different ethics guidelines might result in different ethical interpretations. The ARECCI framework offers the same consistent approach to all team members.

Shouldn’t all projects with greater than minimal risk be reviewed by a research ethics board?

Research ethics boards know how to appropriately assess research projects. While there are many similarities between research and non-research, there are also some key differences. For example, a research ethics board would probably reject a proposal for quality improvement that involves the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycle because the protocol changes as the project leads find new information as the project proceeds.

Are the ARECCI materials copyright?

ARECCI materials are licensed under Creative Commons

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