Use of Partial Disclosure or Deception

Some types of research can be carried out only if the participants do not know the true purpose of the research in advance. Participants may not know that they are part of a research project until it is over or they may be asked to perform a task and told about only one of several elements the researchers are observing. Research employing deception can involve a number of techniques, such as giving participants false information about themselves, events, social conditions and/or the purpose of the research.

Research involving these techniques must:

  • be of minimal risk to the participants;
  • be impossible or impractical to conduct without the partial disclosure/ deception
  • include a debriefing/ full disclosure wherever feasible.

Participants must be able to indicate their consent or their refusal at the conclusion of the project, following debriefing.

Applications that include deception or partial disclosure are not automatically required to be reviewed by full committee; however, if you have a significant concern about the ethical conduct surrounding the deception, please contact your REB Specialist for assistance.

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