Graduate students’ experiences with research ethics in conducting health research

Wendy Petillion, Sherri Melrose, Sharon L. Moore, Simon Nuttgens

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Graduate students typically first experience research ethics when they submit their masters or doctoral research projects for ethics approval. Research ethics boards in Canada review and grant ethical approval for student research projects and often have to provide additional support to these novice researchers. Previous studies have explored curriculum content, teaching approaches, and the learning environment related to research ethics for graduate students. However, research does not exist that examines students’ actual experience with the research ethics process. Qualitative description was used to explore the research ethics review experience of 11 masters and doctoral students in health discipline programs. Data analysis revealed four themes: curriculum, supervisor support, the ethics application process, and students’ overall experience. The results of this research suggest ideas for enhancing curriculum, deepening students’ relationships with supervisors, and developing the role of research ethics boards to support education for novice researchers. This study contributes to comprehension of the research ethics experience for graduate students and what they value as new researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
JournalResearch Ethics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul. 2017


  • experience
  • graduate students
  • qualitative description
  • research ethics board
  • research ethics principles


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