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Research Ethics Board

What is the Research Ethics Board?

The Medicine Hat College Research Ethics Board (REB) has the responsibility to ensure that the research undertaken at the College is conducted with the highest ethical standards. The three core ethical principles which inform and guide all decision-making are respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice.

The REB reviews all proposed or ongoing research which is subject to ethics review in order to protect human research participants. The REB’s decision-making is guided by the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). The Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics was created by Canada’s three federal research agencies—the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The TCPS 2 is the result of this collaboration.

Common Questions

What exactly counts as ‘research’?

From Policy 9.7: 

  • ‘Research’ means a systematic investigation to establish facts, principles, or knowledge. 
  • ‘Participants’ means those who are to participate in or be the subjects of research.  
  • In particular, ‘human participant(s)’ means living individuals, groups of living individuals (for example, social, ethnic, religious or economic groups), human remains, cadavers, tissues, biological fluids, embryos, or foetuses. 

I have a research idea. When do I need ethics approval?

Policy 9.7 specifies that of the following all require initial ethics screening (which means you have to consult with the REB to see if a full review is required):

  • All research projects involving humans conducted by employees, students, or researchers from outside the College conducted on the College grounds, with College resources, or with members of the College Community. 
  • Classroom assignments in which students have to collect and analyse data from people outside of the classroom. Each individual student’s project does not need screening, but the assignment as a whole does.  

The following do not require full ethical review: 

  • Projects which are not to be publicly disseminated. ​Quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluation activities, and performance reviews, or testing within normal educational requirements when used exclusively for assessment, management, or improvement purposes, do not constitute research for the purposes of our Policy, and do not fall within the scope of REB review. 
  • Projects deemed to have minimal risk as determined by the ARECCI screening tool (see below) 
  • Research about a living individual involved in the public arena, or about an artist that is based on publicly available information, documents, records, works, performances, archival material or third-party interviews. Screening and review are required if that individual is approached directly for interviews or for access to private papers. 
  • Research when observing participants in, for example, political rallies, demonstrations or public meetings. It is assumed that participants are seeking public visibility. 
  • In-class activities that involve students obtaining information about each other. 

How do I apply for Ethics Review?

  1. As early as possible in the research design process, familiarise yourself with the TCPS 2 and take the TCPS 2: CORE (Course on Research Ethics) tutorial You will receive a certificate when you successfully complete the tutorial that you and every member of your research team will have to attach to your ethics application.  
  2. Use the ARECCI Screening Tool to evaluate the risk your research design poses to human participants.  You will be given a URL when you are complete. Save this URL exactly as it is given to you. You will need to provide this in your ethics application. 
  3. Complete the MHCREB Application for Ethics Review of Projects Involving Human Participants. Request a copy from the Chair, MHC Research Ethics Board.
  4. Submit your completed and signed application (with all supporting documents required in the form) to the Chair, MHC Research Ethics Board

How long does it take to get a decision back?

The REB works on a ongoing basis. You should expect a decision within 4 to 6 weeks. It is important that you submit your ethics application well ahead of any deadlines you might otherwise have.  

Can I start my research in anticipation of receiving ethics approval?

No. Absolutely nothing involving the proposed human participants (including recruitment) can take place before ethics approval is granted. You may do other preparatory work, but you may not work with any participants in any fashion.  

Can the Ethics Review Board help me write my application?

We cannot. It would be a conflict of interest for members of the REB to assist in the writing of the application and sit in evaluation of that application. However, assistance with research design can be had from Teaching and Learning and, in the near future, the Centre for Innovation and Applied Research.  

Where can I find the complete Policies and Procedures for the REB?

You can find Policy 9.7 Ethical Conduct Involving Human Participants on Medicine Hat College Policies and Procedures found on SOURCE.

Further Resources

Contact Info

Dr. Colleen Whidden

Chair, Research Ethics Board