Human Participation - Low Risk - Introduction


Science fairs often include excellent projects involving human research participants. These projects are based in the social and behavioral sciences such as psychology, sociology, and education, and in related health sciences such as physiology, kinesiology and nursing.

We need to ensure that participants are safe, that they are treated with respect and dignity, and that the information they provide will be kept confidential. These ethical safeguards are primarily the responsibility of the science fair student researchers and their supervisors.

To help them carry out these responsibilities in accordance with national standards, Youth Science Canada provides a set of guidelines and a procedure for review of the ethical aspects of projects.

Student researchers and their advisers must read these before starting work on their projects.

Low Risk Projects

Low Risk Projects involve conditions where the risks of harm are not greater or more likely than those encountered in everyday life. Examples are: some, but not all, surveys of attitudes and beliefs; skill tests; observations of behaviour; everyday food projects. It is sufficient to have the adult supervisor assume responsibility for supervision of ethical as well as scientific aspects of the project, and also complete Form 4.1A Human Participants – Low Risk ensuring that the essential elements of ethics review: consent, confidentiality and the right to withdraw are considered. Written informed consent from parents or guardians is strongly recommended for all projects involving humans, and is mandatory for all food and drink projects. Within a school, this is a good opportunity to have the class learn about the ethics of research involving humans. We require all adults who are supervising such projects to read Policy Participation of Humans - Low Risk.

Request for Information.

If you have any questions about your project, and want to be sure it is eligible for presentation, you can request advice and a ruling from the ethics committee of your regional science fair:

  1. Download this Request for Advice or a Ruling.
  2. Fill it in.
  3. Follow the instructions at the end of the form.