Skip to Main Content

Research Integrity

Tilburg University is committed to protecting and guaranteeing scientific integrity.


Tilburg University believes it is important that all research carried out within the university complies with the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. This means, among other things, that research involving human participants is reviewed by an ethics committee (when necessary), that researchers carefully manage their data, and that privacy legislation (GDPR) is complied with.

Tilburg University has opted for an integrated approach to Ethics, Data Management and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The committees within Tilburg University are organized per School and use virtually the same application form to assess these aspects.


Mission and guiding principles

The TiSEM Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a permanent and independent committee, established by TiSEM’s management team. The IRB evaluates research proposals to be conducted by TiSEM faculty, PhD candidates, and Research Master students (from now on called researchers). Research proposals are evaluated on ethics of data collection and data management, including participant privacy protection, and the quality of data management, including data accessibility. The IRB does not do post hoc evaluation of research that has been conducted.
The TiSEM IRB aims to sustain and improve the quality of research at TiSEM; for

  1. Research participants: by protecting their privacy and preventing them from physical, psychological or other harm.
  2. Institution and Society: by supporting and facilitating the integrity and transparency of data collection and management as well as the accessibility of research data and results.
  3. Researchers: by supporting, informing, and helping researchers to conform to the IRB aims and procedures while keeping their workload at a minimum.

Research proposals are evaluated on:

  1. Ethics of data collection
    • Fully inform participants about the data collection procedure and the intended use of their personal data.
    • Obtain informed consent from participants before starting data collection.
    • Prevent as much as possible any physical and/or psychological harm or strain to participants from data collection.
    • Assess whether and to what extent you have achieved this goal.
    • Take immediate remedial action to solve any problems that have arisen due to or during data collection
  2. Data management and GDPR
    • Transparency in data management by documenting which data are stored where and how and who has access to this.
    • Privacy protection of the participants.
    • Accessibility of data and procedures to contribute to the replicability and reproducibility of research results.

Do I need IRB approval?

All research with data relating to living human subjects or groups of human living subjects conducted by TiSEM researchers need IRB approval except 1) research using anonymized existing data or 2) research using pseudonymized, existing data for which the key to link the data to living human subjects or groups is not available in the research team. This also holds when research is carried out in collaboration with organizations other than Tilburg University.

More information on the composition of the IRB, the application form and procedure, the point of contact can be found at the TiSEM IRB website.

The TLS Ethics Review Board (ERB) is a committee established by the TLS board, and it assesses the ethical, data management and privacy aspects of research proposals.

Why Ethics review
The ERB has been established in order to prevent harm to research subjects and to increase ethical awareness amongst TLS researchers. The existence of an ethics board also ensures compliance with the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice. Furthermore high ranked journals increasingly require ethical clearance before publication.

When to apply for ethical clearance
If you want to know if you should apply for ethical clearance and submit your application to the ERB, visit the website. In short you need to apply if your research can cause harm.
At least there is a risk of harm when:

  • The research involves vulnerable groups such as children, patients, people subject to discrimination, minorities, people unable to give consent, people of dissenting opinion, immigrant or minority communities, sex workers, etc. Experts, for example judges or police officers, are not considered to be a vulnerable group unless disclosure of the data collected can put them in a vulnerable position.
  • The research involves sensitive data. Sensitive data are personal data revealing, among others, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation.
  • The characteristics of the research design itself are endangering to participants, or when there is a risk that results will be abused by third parties. While these situations are less likely than those listed under A. and B., researchers should be aware of potential harm in these situations.
Please watch the video explaining the ethics review procedure.

Data management and the GDPR
Next to the ethical aspects of research proposals, the TLS ERB also looks at data management and GDPR/privacy aspects of a proposal.

More information on the composition of the ERB, the application form and procedure, the point of contact can be found at the TLS ERB website.

The Ethics Review Board (ERB) of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Tilburg University is a permanent and independent board, appointed by the School Board to review the scientific and ethical aspects of research projects that do not fall under the Medical Research (Human Subjects) Act (WMO).

Why an ethics review?

Human-related scientific research requires attention to scientific quality and value, privacy, data protection and control, and protection of the integrity of participants. Participants in scientific research should be able to assume that research will be conducted in a responsible manner. The objective of the Ethics Review Board is to protect human test subjects against the risks and objections of scientific research, without hindering the progress of science.

When do you need to submit an ethics application?

All studies with data on living human subjects conducted within TSB (School, PhD researchers, and students) require ethical approval. There are a few exceptions to this, please check the following webpage for more information: Procedure Ethics Review | Tilburg University.

How to apply?

You can apply via G.E.D. Started!, the online platform within Tilburg University for the ethics review. Via this tool, you go through the different components of the ethics review: ethics, data management, and GDPR. You can find the link to G.E.D. Started on the following webpage: Procedure Ethics Review | Tilburg University.

The Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD) Research Ethics and Data Management Committee (REDC) assesses research proposals for research that deals with subjects. If you are not sure whether your proposal meets the criteria for assessment you can consult the REDC by email before submitting a request for assessment. Please note that it is the responsibility of the researcher to check whether assessment by the REDC is necessary and to submit an application.

More information on the composition of the REDC, the application form and procedure, the point of contact can be found at the TSHD REDC website.

The Ethics Review Board of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (ERB-TST) assesses empirical research involving subjects. The review addresses three topics: ethical review (including information to and consent of participants/respondents), data management during and after the research, and review in accordance with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, in Dutch AVG). It is and remains the responsibility of the investigator to decide whether the assessment is necessary and to submit the application in a timely manner.
Assessment procedure:

  • The application must be made using the standard form available at the webpage of ERB-TST (in Dutch). References to background information are included in this document.
  • After completion, please send this form, including the required attachments, to the board's e-mail address:
  • The boards aims to carry out the assessment within three weeks.
  • The assessment is free of charge.
  • The approval is valid for the duration of the project as indicated in the application. In the event of a delay or extension, you must inform the committee.
  • The approval is valid for the assessment as described in the application. Modifications after approval can only take place if they have no implications for ethical aspects. If this is the case, you must submit an amendment to the application.
  • An approval cannot be obtained after the research has been started or completed.
  • If you do not agree with the board's assessment, you can submit an objection via the board's e-mail address. A decision on the objection will be taken within one month in consultation with the Dean and the Vice-Dean Research.
  • There is a similar procedure for research by TST students making use of an abridged application form.
  • On the webpage of ERB-TST a number of sample texts is available.