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Guidelines for legal support to maintain researcher-participant confidentiality

University researchers who conduct human participant research have, in some cases, faced legal challenges to their obligations to maintain the confidentiality of the data or other information they have collected. The Tri-Council has mandated that in certain circumstances institutions may be required to fund independent legal counsel for researchers. These guidelines specify, why, when, and how the University of Waterloo will provide such funding.

Whether researchers see the potential for a conflict, are advised of its potential by someone else (for example a research ethics board/committee or funder), or are served with a subpoena or search warrant, they need to be aware of the institutional support that is available and how to access it.

All members of the University who conduct human participant research should become familiar with these guidelines to ensure they are aware what may need to be put in place for both themselves as researchers and for their study participants. A need for independent legal counsel may arise at any point in the life of a research study, including the initial design stages of a project. To find out more, click on a topic below.