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Research Ethics Review FSS

Last updated on 4 April 2024
All researchers at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (FSS-VU) should review their upcoming research projects for any ethics issues.

The Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) provides guidance in dealing with these issues, as well as a standardized review procedure.

0. Frequently Asked Questions

The information about this procedure, as found below, is also available as a video. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

If you're a BA/MA/PhD student, complete steps 1 and 2. If full ethics review is required, ask your supervisor to discuss the risks with the department's RERC member.

1. Self-check

Complete the online ethics Self-Check form, consisting of 15 yes/no questions dealing with possible risks your research may entail. Make sure you click ‘yes’ to receive a confirmation message displaying your responses and the result of the check. You will get a confirmation that you have gone through the checklist and your research complies with FSS-VU ethical guidelines. Save the pdf you get via e-mail. 

If the result is that your research does not need further review, you can start with your research. 

If the result is that your research needs further review, go to step 2. 

2. Discuss the risks

It is important to consider whether identified risks can be avoided by adapting your research plan. Discuss your research plan with your supervisor and your department’s RERC member. Send the self-check result to your department representative. Revise your research plan to reduce and tackle risks. Go back to step 1: complete the self-check again based on the revised plan. If the result is still that full ethics review is necessary, proceed to Step 3.

3. Prepare full ethics review

If you are a student, ask your supervisor to handle this and the following steps:

With your research team, create 

  1. A short description of the research questions, the societal and scientific relevance of the research, and the research design (max. 1 A4);  
  2. the information for participants, 
  3. the consent form, 
  4. the research materials (manipulations, questionnaire, topic list), 
  5. the anonymization procedure, and 
  6. the data management plan. 

You can find examples of these materials under “Guidelines and documents” below.

If you have everything (i.e, 6 documents), go to step 4. 

4. Submit materials fo ethics review

Complete the online Ethics Review Application Form and upload the required documents. Note that only research project leaders can submit an application for ethics review. If you are a Master or PhD student, ask your supervisor to submit the materials. You can find a pdf version of the full review form under “Guidelines and documents” below.

5. Revise and resubmit

Once your application is received, the secretary will screen it. Be ready to answer clarification questions and revise, resubmit or add materials. When your application is complete, the secretary will send it out for review to two members of the Research Ethics Review Committee. The full committee will discuss your research at the next meeting. The committee meets once a month during the academic season (September – June), on the last Monday of the month:26 September 2022

31 October 2022

28 November 2022

19 December 2022

30 January 2023

27 February 2023

27 March 2023

24 April 2023

22 May 2023

26 June 2023

After the discussion of the reviews of your application in the RERC meeting, you will receive a letter from the chair of the committee via email. The letter either states that your research complies with the ethics guidelines of the faculty, or asks you to revise the research materials and resubmit them for further review.


If your research involves possible risks, be advised that you should apply for the ethics review procedure well before you start collecting your data. If your research requires a full ethics review, the review committee requires at least ten days to study your application, and must subsequently discuss your application at the next monthly meeting. If concerns remain, you may need to resubmit your application.

Further information