Students as Researchers

Course-Based Research

The University of Alberta encourages the integration of research and teaching throughout its programming. Undergraduate course curricula regularly incorporate class projects and other activities in order to develop research skills. These projects may be carried out by individual students, small groups or as a single class project.

Although these class projects may not fit the standard definition of research in the sense that the results are not intended for generalization to other situations; the potential for risk to those who participate in these projects might require that they be reviewed by a REB.

Course-based research projects and activities vary widely in scope, but may include having students:

  • conduct interviews, administer standard tests, or distribute questionnaires to develop interview or questionnaire design skills;
  • conduct small research projects where students pose research questions, gather data from human participants, and analyze the data for presentation; or
  • engage in other activities that would be considered research within the disciplinary traditions in which the course is being taught.

Importantly, course-based research projects are meant solely for pedagogical and student assessment purposes and the results of the course based research are not meant to be disseminated outside of the classroom environment (ie. published).

For course-based research projects involving human participants, the instructor submits a short "course-based research" ethics application to Research Ethics Board 1 (REB 1). Once the application is approved, the instructor is responsible for ensuring the students' individual projects are ethically acceptable.

Need assistance in determining if what you are doing is course-based research and requires an application to be submitted? Click here to read the full guidance document or call us at 780-492-2615.

Honors/Capstone/Thesis Research

Unlike course-based research assignments, when students undertake research or capstone projects in honors and graduate programs they conduct individualized, independent research (with more or less supervision). In addition, their work is held to a higher academic standard and usually expected to make some original contribution to a field of study.

For human participant research related to honors, capstone or thesis requirements, the student prepares an ethics application which is approved first by the supervisor and then by the REB. Once the application is approved, the student is responsible for ensuring his or her work is ethically acceptable.

Students as Research Staff

When students conduct human participant research as part of working with the University, they conduct this work under the direction of a Principal Investigator (PI), usually a member of the academic staff. The PI is responsible for obtaining ethics approval for the research, for ensuring that research personnel have the necessary training and supervision and for ensuring that their work is consistent with the approved research.