Research Ethics at Conestoga

The Research Ethics Board (REB)

All proposals to conduct research involving human participants at or within Conestoga College are subject to a review and approval process through the Research Ethics Board (REB).

The REB is a volunteer committee of experienced researchers and subject matter experts. We review all research protocols involving human participants and apply the principles of the Tri-Council Policy Statement v2 (TCPS 2): Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. These principles, Respect for Persons, Concern for Welfare and Justice are essential pillars to research conducted under the auspices of Conestoga College. The REB has the goal of facilitating applied research activities, and research activities within the classroom, in accordance with these principles.

Conestoga College is a participant in the Research Ethics Multi-College Review process. Other colleges involved in the project, which was developed by the Colleges Ontario Heads of Applied Research Subcommittee on Research Ethics, include Centennial, Fanshawe, George Brown, Georgian, Niagara and Sheridan.

COVID-19: Recommended actions for approved/new research involving humans

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Conestoga College Research Ethics Board encourages all researchers with active protocols to evaluate the necessity of ongoing study activities at this time, and if needed, to make appropriate (and applicable) revisions to their study in response to Public Health Ontario recommendations until further notice – maintaining compliance to all institutional, provincial and federal guidelines.

The Principal Investigator on the application is responsible for exercising sound judgment in determining when ongoing study activities are appropriate, taking into consideration: (a) the objective of the research; (b) the mandate to protect all participants, student researchers and the community at large; and (c) the resources available (e.g., access to study sites, personnel, technologies, etc.) to carry out ongoing activities.

The REB recognizes that the breadth of research across the college will necessitate diverse modifications to facilitate research activities during this time given physical distancing practices and restricted access to facilities. We advise Investigators to consider whether their research protocols can be modified or delayed in order to limit personal contacts to minimize risk to participants, Investigators and student researchers. Specifically, in some research settings in-person participant interactions could be reduced and/or replaced with alternate means of communication (e.g. telephone). Considerations include the nature of your protocol, the type of participants engaged in the research and any additional risk that may arise by switching from in-person to virtual communication platforms, including risk to privacy.

While the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2 2018) typically requires review and approval of modifications prior to implementation, an exception can be made where the change is necessary to eliminate an immediate risk to participant(s) (Article 6.15). Such changes may be implemented but must be reported to the REB at the earliest opportunity (within 5 business days) using the Change Request Form (pdf), which can be submitted with any revised supporting documents to the REB at rebcoordinator@conestogac.on.ca.

We are monitoring emails and continue to receive and review new applications and amendments to currently approved projects remotely. If yours is urgent – i.e. you need to implement a change as soon as possible in order to continue with your research – please indicate this in the request. For more information on REB review, please see TCPS 2: Research Ethics Review during Publicly Declared Emergencies.

If you have questions about the ethics review process during the pandemic, please contact the REB Coordinator at rebcoordinator@conestogac.on.ca.

Conducting research at Conestoga College

For faculty and external researchers:

STEP 1: Complete and submit an application form:

STEP 2: Complete and submit the following required supporting documentation:

  1. Checklist for Review of Information Letter and Consent Form (pdf)
    This form will help to ensure that you have included all the recruitment notices, consent forms, data collection forms, etc., that are required for your application.
  2. Supporting documentation as per the Checklist for Review of Information Letter and Consent Form
  3. Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) certificate of completion
  4. Complete the TCPS 2 online tutorial
  5. Locally Responsible Investigator Form for External Investigators/Researchers (pdf) If the Principal Investigator is not on staff at Conestoga College then your research proposal requires a Locally Responsible Investigator (LRI). The LRI must be a current employee at Conestoga College. The REB Coordinator can assist you with finding an LRI.
  6. Application Signature Page (pdf) (original signature required)

For students and internal researchers:

Please refer to the Course-Based Research Ethics Application Guide for more information and detailed instructions on how to apply.

Support

Applying for approval:

How do I know if my research requires REB approval?
If your research involves the participation of humans through any type of survey, interview, focus group, questionnaire, testing, etc. your research proposal may require REB approval.

If you are unsure whether your research requires REB approval you may find the ARECCI Screening Tool helpful; it is a four-step, web-based Ethics Screening Tool developed to provide practical decision-support assistance to project leaders and teams.

If you are still unsure, please contact the REB Coordinator to discuss the project further.

I'm just going to ask a few questions. Do I really need research ethics clearance?
Yes. Conestoga College REB policy and the TCPS 2 requires that research carried out with human beings must have ethics clearance before your research can begin. Contact the REB Coordinator for more information and assistance.

I have a lot of research experience already, do I need to complete the TCPS 2 online tutorial?
Yes. Conestoga College requires that all researchers complete the TCPS 2 online tutorial. Submission of your completion certificate is a required document for your application. Completion of the tutorial may take two to three hours. It can be done in sections and saved so that you do not have to complete all modules at one time.

What documentation do I need to include with my submission?
In addition to your application form (see Step 1), Conestoga College requires a number of additional supporting documents (see Step 2) including:

  1. Checklist for info letter and consent form (this will help you to ensure that you have included all the recruitment notices, consent forms, data collection forms, etc., that are required for your application)
  2. Supporting documents (i.e. recruitment notices, consent and data collection forms, etc.)
  3. TCPS 2 certificate of completion
  4. Locally Responsible Investigator (LRI) form
  5. Institutional Approval form
  6. Application signature page

How can I help ensure my application is reviewed quickly?
Unclear or incomplete applications take longer for the REB to review. Make sure your methodology is clear and detailed and check your application for spelling and typing errors.

Another major cause of delay is failure to submit all of the additional required supporting documents as outlined in step 2. Ensure that your entire application package is complete prior to submission.

Please note that your application package will not move forward for review until all required documents have been received.

How long does the ethics review process take?
The Conestoga College REB aims to advise applicants of the results of the review within 10-15 business days of the original submission date. If you have a more urgent need for review, please contact the REB Coordinator to discuss how it may be accommodated. Review times may increase during peak periods, such as at the beginning of a new semester.

Does the REB have a submission deadline?
The Conestoga College REB does not have submission deadlines, so you may submit your application at any time.

Please note that the Conestoga College REB does not hold meetings in July or August. Review times may increase during the summer months.

Can I talk to someone before I submit my application? How should I communicate with the REB?
You may contact the REB via email. Check your inbox spam settings to make sure email responses from the REB are not blocked.

After approval:

Can I make a change to my research that has already been cleared by the REB?
The REB has a Change Request Form (pdf) for revisions or amendments to originally-cleared research submissions. Instructions on completion are found in the form. Change requests are reviewed by the REB Co-Chairs and generally have a shorter turn-around time.
 
Uh-oh. Something went wrong in the course of my research. What do I do?
Any undesirable experience or response is considered an adverse event. The adverse event may be emotional, psychological or physiological in nature. The Principle Investigator is responsible for reporting any injury, adverse event, or detrimental incident experienced by a research participant that is/may be related to the research procedures. Complete the Adverse Events Report (pdf) and submit to the REB Coordinator as soon as possible.

How long is my ethics approval good for?
Certificates of Ethical Acceptability are valid for one year from the original date of approval.

My research may take more than one year to complete. How can I extend/renew the approval period?
The REB Coordinator will send you a renewal/completion reminder at least one month prior to the expiry of your ethical approval. At that time you may submit a Renewal Request (pdf) noting that the study is still active if you wish to renew the approval for another year, or you may submit a Completion Report (pdf) noting that the study is no longer active and you wish to close the project.

Faculty:

Is there someone who can come and speak to my class about research ethics?
Yes. Members of the REB are available to make a presentation or speak to your class about research ethics. Please contact the REB coordinator by email or phone at 519-748-5220, ext. 7108 to set up a time.

I am teaching a course that will have student projects involving research with humans. Can I submit one application for the entire class?
Yes. There is a separate Request for Ethics Approval of Course-Based Research Project (pdf) for instructors who teach courses where students engage in minimal risk research projects with human participants. Consult the guidelines in the application or talk with the REB Coordinator about your course projects. Remember that because different instructors set different projects for their students, course-based clearance is granted to the instructor of each course on an individual basis.

Please refer to the Course-Based Research Ethics Application Guide for more information and detailed instructions on how to apply.

Sample templates