Mandate
Canada's three major granting agencies — the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) — have developed a Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) entitled Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.

The TCPS describes standards and procedures for governing research involving human participants (including the establishment of a research ethics board) at Canadian institutions, such as Mount Allison University, which receive funding from CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC.

Guiding ethical principles include:

  • respect for human dignity
  • respect for free and informed consent voluntarily given
  • respect for vulnerable persons
  • respect for privacy and confidentiality
  • respect for justice and inclusiveness
  • balancing harms and benefits
  • minimizing harm
  • maximizing benefits

Authority
Mount Allison University endorses the ethical principles cited in the (TCPS). The Mount Allison University REB has jurisdiction over all research involving human participants. The REB has the authority to approve, reject, propose modifications to, or terminate any proposed or ongoing research involving human participants which is conducted within, or by members of, Mount Allison University, using the considerations set forth in the TCPS as the minimum standard.

In accordance with Chapter 1, Section C of the TCPS, the REB adopts a proportionate approach based on the general principle that the more invasive the research, the greater should be the care in assessing the research. The concept of proportionate review gives practical expression to the general principle that, especially in the context of limited resources, the more potentially invasive or harmful is the proposed and ongoing research, the greater should be the care in its review. A proportionate approach also implies different levels of REB review for different research proposals.

Research requiring ethics review
All research involving living human participants and research involving human biological materials as well as human embryos, fetuses, reproductive materials and stem cells must be reviewed (see TCPS Article 2.1).

The TCPS defines “research” as “any undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplinary inquiry or systematic investigation.”

In accordance with the TCPS, the following types of research require ethics review and approval from the REB before the research is started:

  • research by Mount Allison University faculty members, both full-time and part-time
  • thesis and directed studies research conducted by Mount Allison University graduate and undergraduate students
  • research conducted by Mount Allison University students or staff that makes use of University resources or facilities, either on-site or off-site
  • research that has already been approved, but subsequently requires significant changes in the original protocol or in collecting, storing, analyzing, or reporting data or research in which ethical issues have arisen
  • research conducted at Mount Allison University by non-Mount Allison University researchers (e.g., faculty, staff, or students from other institutions, or community groups, organizations, or businesses) acting as principal investigators, regardless if the research has been approved at another institution
  • research that involves interviewing a human participant to secure identifiable personal information, whether by face-to-face, telephone, videotaping, or other electronic encounters, or individualized questionnaires
  • research involving third-party interviews if the third party is approached directly for interviews or for access to private papers
  • research involving naturalistic observation of humans
  • research that involves the secondary use of data that was originally collected from human participants for another purpose

The above-mentioned types of research require ethics review regardless of whether the:

  • research is funded or not
  • funding is internal or external
  • participants are from inside or outside the University
  • participants are paid or unpaid
  • research is conducted inside or outside the University
  • research is conducted inside or outside of Canada
  • research is conducted by staff or students
  • research is conducted in person or remotely (e.g., by mail, electronic mail, fax, or telephone)
  • information is collected directly from participants or from existing records not in the public domain
  • research is to be published or not
  • focus of the research is the participant or a broader issue
  • research is observational, experimental, co-relational, or descriptive
  • project has been approved elsewhere or not
  • research is a pilot study or a fully developed project
  • research is to acquire basic facts or applied knowledge
  • research is primarily for teaching or training purposes or whether the primary purpose is the acquisition of knowledge

Research NOT requiring ethics review
The following types of research DO NOT require ethics approval:

  • research that relies exclusively on publicly available information, when it is legally accessible and appropriately protected by law or where the information is publicly accessible and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (TCPS Article 2.2)
  • research that involves naturalistic observation of people in public places (and there is no intervention staged by the researchers or direct interaction with people; does not include collecting personal information that will be disseminated with visual materials; and where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy among those being observed) (TCPS Article 2.3)
  • research that involves the secondary use of anonymous information (pooled data) which cannot be traced to the original research participants (TCPS Article 2.4)
  • quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluation, and performance reviews or testing within normal educational requirements (TCPS Article 2.5)
  • creative practices in and of themselves (TCPS Article 2.6)