When is an application necessary?
A vote by the Ethics Commission may be a precondition for third-party funding. In the DFG application guidelines (opens in new tab) you will find information on the cases in which a vote by the Ethics Commission is obligatory. If you are planning such a research project you should submit your application to the Ethics Commission well in advance. It is not possible to apply for a vote on a research project that has already been completed.
As specialist journals are increasingly making an ethical examination of proposals a precondition for accepting articles for publication, you should enquire well in advance – that is, before embarking on your research – whether an ethics application is required.
If you are uncertain whether you should acquire an ethics vote for your planned research work, you can initially complete the checklist contained in the application form. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions, your proposal could touch on ethical issues. In this case, you should submit an application to the Ethics Commission.
If you only answered “yes” to a question relating to personal data, you should enquire with the Office of the Ethics Commission whether an application is recommendable.
The Office will be pleased to advise you on your application.
Who submits the application?
Any researcher at TU Darmstadt who is eligible to apply to the DFG, that is, normally those holding a PhD, is also eligible to submit an ethics application. If the research proposal is part of a doctoral thesis, the application will usually have to be submitted by the dissertation supervisor. In the case of a Bachelor’s or Master’s dissertation, the supervisor, that is, the head of department or another member of staff who holds a PhD, will be responsible for submitting the application.
What must the application include?
In order to acquire a vote by the Ethics Commission, please use the Form for ethics applications. The form consists of a short description of your research proposal, the checklist and the actual application with details of your research proposal. When submitting an application, please complete the entire form and include all required attachments. The application form must be signed by the researcher responsible for the study.
When completing the form please be sure to describe your proposal in a way that allows the Commission to acquire a complete picture not only of the aims of the project but, above all, of how your research is to be conducted. If your proposal involves research on or with test subjects, you must attach the declaration of consent/information sheet and – if available – the questionnaires or research applications to be used in the project. If the project involves elaborate experimental setups, special screen graphics or similar, sketches, photos or screenshots would be helpful.
You can download a sample declaration of consent that conforms with the EU GDPR from the Ethics Commission. It comprises an information sheet and a data privacy declaration. You may, of course, choose your own design for the declaration of consent. If you do, please check that it covers all the elements in the sample so that your declaration of consent also conforms with the EU DGPR.
Form incl. checklist for Ethics application
Sample declaration of consent
What is the timeframe?
The Ethics Commission meets six times a year at intervals of approximately two months. The dates of their meetings can be found on the Ethics Commission website. If the Commission has queries, it may be necessary to re-address the application at a second meeting. So, please factor in enough time to acquire your ethics vote. Your application, including all attachments, must reach the Office by e-mail or post by the deadline stated. You will receive confirmation from the Office that your application has been received.
If you submit your application up to two days before the deadline, the Office will usually be able to inform you if it contains formal errors or obvious deficiencies in terms of content. Submitting in good time thus means you have a chance to make corrections, if necessary, and reduces the likelihood that the vote is delayed by queries from the Commission.
Applications that are submitted on time will usually be considered at the next scheduled meeting of the Ethics Commission. The Commission’s vote is sent to the applicants by post approximately one week after the meeting.
The vote will inform you either (1) that there are no ethical concerns with regard to conducting the research proposal, (2) that there are no ethical concerns, provided that certain (individually specified) conditions are met or (3) that there are ethical concerns. The vote does, of course, also include explanations on the Commission’s respective assessments.
In the second case (a conditional positive vote), the Ethics Commission usually sets a deadline by which the conditions must be met. In the case of a negative vote it is possible to submit a new application based on a significantly different research design.