Ethics Approval

Does your science fair project involve humans or animals? 

If so, you will need to obtain ethics approval in order to qualify for VDSF (and GVRSF).


What do I need to do? 

  1. Use the INTERACTIVE ETHICS FLOWCHART to find out which policies and procedures apply to your project.

  2. Do you need to obtain INFORMED CONSENT from your participants? If so, write a Letter of Information and print out permission forms to give to your participants. You can download both documents below.

  3. Do you need to submit a RESEARCH PLAN? If so, download and complete the template below and e-mail it to the regional ethics chair at (please copy on this e-mail as well).

  4. Ask your teacher supervisor to sign off on your project by filling out the appropriate APPROVAL FORM (download 4.1A, 4.1B, or 4.1C below). Make TWO copies of this form — give one to your teacher supervisor and bring the other with you to VDSF.

  5. Fill out a REQUEST FOR ADVICE OR RULING FORM and e-mail this to the regional ethics chair at along with Form 4.1A, 4.1B, or 4.1C. If your project involves human subjects, attach your letter of information and consent forms to the e-mail request for review.

    IMPORTANT! Please copy and your project partner on all e-mails related to ethics approval. You should also include your teacher supervisor. This allows everyone to stay in the loop.

  6. Check your e-mail regularly for updates on the status of your ethics approval request.

Getting ethics approval by registration deadline

LOW RISK PROJECTS with human participants (e.g. questionnaires, surveys, tests of skill) Students should submit an e-mail request for ethics approval ASAP. They may proceed with their experiment while awaiting a reply.

All required documents should be received by February 20 in order to meet registration requirements.

OTHER PROJECTS involving human participants (significant risk), vertebrate animals or cephalopods Students should submit an e-mail request for ethics approval ASAP. Please note that it may take 1 – 2 weeks to receive a reply from the GVRSF ethics reviewer.

Full ethics approval must be obtained from the GVRSF ethics reviewer by February 20 in order to meet registration requirements.







[Last updated: Dec. 23, 2019]

What to include with your ethics approval request

WANT TO AVOID DELAYS? Send one e-mail with all the necessary documents attached and provide specific details about your experiment from the start. This will significantly reduce the number of follow-ups required.


Request for Advice or Ruling Ethics Committee (doc) | You are not required to use this template, but you should provide the information indicated and address the questions on page 2.

Human Participation — Significant Risk Research Plan (doc) | This form is only required for high risk projects involving human participants. Your region would be school district #39 (Vancouver).

Use of Animals Research Plan (doc) | This form is only required for projects involving vertebrate animals or cephalopods. Your region would be school district #39 (Vancouver).


 Attach your Letter of Information and a blank consent form with your ethics approval e-mail request. Completed permission forms should be treated like fieldtrip forms, i.e. these should be kept in a secure place and shredded once science fair is over.

Letter of Information template (docx) | Letter of Information SAMPLE  NOTE: If your experiment has not yet received ethics approval, simply state “Request for ethics approval submitted and awaiting reply” or “Ethics approval in progress” for section 10.

Participant Permission Form (docx) | If you want to minimize the number of forms, try this Group Participant Permission Form — legal size (docx)


Attach the appropriate approval form (filled in with signatures) to your ethics approval e-mail request. Give one copy of this form to your teacher supervisor and bring the other copy to VDSF. Not sure which form to use? Consult this GVRSF ethics flowchart.

Form 4.1A (humans; low risk)Form 4.1B (humans; significant risk)

Form 4.1C (vertebrate animals & cephalopods)


[Last updated: Feb. 15, 2020]

Links to Ethics Resources

NOTE: VDSF follows the same ethics guidelines as the regional and Canada-wide science fairs. Once you have obtained ethics approval for VDSF, it carries over to the regional fair.

Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair ethics guidelines | GVRSF ethics flowchart

Youth Science Canada ethics policies

Canadian Council on Animal Care guidelines

Natural Health Products Ingredients Database (Health Canada)

[Last updated: Feb. 16, 2020]