RECS Frequently Asked Questions

Below are frequently asked questions about the Institute for Bioethics’ Research Ethics Consultation Service (RECS):

1. What kinds of consultations are available?

In general, a Research Ethics Consultation Service (RECS) consultation may be requested for any ethical concern that arises during the research process.  This includes ethical aspects of study design, such as details of informed consent, research protocols with subjects from vulnerable populations or requiring surrogate decision-making, invasive or deceptive research procedures or novel research methods, community-based research questions, or social/policy issues beyond the particular research design.

2. What issues are not appropriate for a RECS consultation?

Consultations regarding questions of law, regulation or institutional policy will generally be referred to the appropriate UM organization.  Consultations regarding statistical appropriateness or other purely technical aspects of design will also be referred.  For sensitive matters, consider using the anonymous, confidential “Canewatch” service described at

3. What kinds of information will a RECS consult provide?

On analogy with clinical ethics standards, consultations are in all cases advisory, and will generally consist in recommendations of one or more courses of action as well as contact information for other organizations at UM with research oversight responsibilities.  Persons requesting consults retain responsibility for their own decisions.

4. Who can request a RECS consultation?

RECS is a service available to any UM-affiliated faculty member, clinician, staff member, post-doctoral researcher, trainee, graduate or undergraduate student.

5. What is the cost of a RECS consultation?

Consultations are without charge to anyone formally affiliated with UM or with a UM research protocol.

6. Are RECS consultations confidential?

RECS responders will do their best to honor appropriate requests for confidentiality.  However, confidentiality is not possible where the fact set presents a duty to report due to a law, regulation or UM policy.  If a matter is sensitive and you are concerned about confidentiality, please use the Canewatch service at

7. Can RECS consultations be anonymous?

Although general advice is always available, a formal consultation cannot be anonymous. Use the Canewatch service if anonymity is essential.

8. How do I request a RECS consultation?

To request a RECS consult open this RECS request form and then submit it. Login with your UM email address or CaneID and associated password may be required. You can also call 305-243-5723 or email