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Research Ethics Committee
The Research Ethics Committee (cETO) is a university-wide advisory committee, appointed by the Executive Board of the Open University of the Netherlands (OU). It operates under the deans of the Faculties.

On request, the cETO:

  • Assesses whether or not studies involving human participants performed by researchers, (external) PhDs and students of the OU fall within the scope of WMO (Medical Research Involving Human Participants Act (Wet medisch-wetenschappelijk onderzoek met mensen, WMO).
  • Assesses studies not covered by WMO rules performed by researchers, (external) PhDs and students for ethical acceptability.

Ethical assessment is obligatory for all studies involving human participants for employees of the Psychology and Educational Science Faculty (PenOW) (this does not apply for secondary data-analysis). This obligation comes into effect for all students performing a study in the faculty in November 2017. The cETO provides binding written advice.


  • Study proposals must be submitted to the cETO before the study is carried out, i.e. before recruitment of the participants.
  • The cETO is not an accredited MREC (METC in Dutch) and is not authorized to give approval for studies following WMO rules. If the cETO concludes that a study requires WMO compliance, then the study proposal should be submitted to a MREC for approval (if the researcher decides to continue the initiated procedure).
  • Some funding bodies and institutions demand that the study should be submitted to a MREC for approval, even when the study would not otherwise require compliance with WMO-guidelines. In such cases, approval of the cETO could be insufficient. It is the responsibility of the researcher to find out what the appropriate procedure is.
  • When publishing results of a study that does not require compliance with WMO guidelines, it is recommended to submit the study proposal to the cETO for ethical assessment (obligatory for PenOW). Many journals demand evidence indicating that the study was approved by a research ethics committee.
  • Informing students (including (external) PhDs) is the responsibility of the supervisor (PhD supervisor in case of a PhD study; principal investigator in case of a non-PhD study).
  • The research proposal must be submitted using the online application procedure. There are three different application procedures for cETO assessment: full track assessment, fast track assessment and amendment assessment (for more detail, see below).
  • The Dean of the Faculty of the applicant has the final responsibility and receives the advice of the cETO for inspection. The Dean has the opportunity to object to the advice and/or the study proposal within two weeks.
  • In the case of studies that require WMO compliance, the researcher is responsible for submitting the proposal for assessment by the MREC and for the (potential) additional costs without the involvement of the cETO.
  • The researchers, including (external) PhDs and students, are required to act according to the law and regulations.


  • National Ethics Council for Social and Behavioural Sciences
    The aim of the National Ethics Council for Social and Behavioural Sciences is to formulate joint principles and values for all associated university faculties and research institutes. In addition, the national council promotes new knowledge development and exchange. In addition, the national council represents ethics boards at national and international organisations, including the government and funding agencies.
  • The Netherlands Research Integrity Network
    The Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN) aims to facilitate collaboration, exchange and mutual learning between the actors in the field of research integrity.