Research Ethics Board (REB)
OCAD University REB online
All research ethics-related forms and reports are processed on-line through the ROMEO researcher portal. Researchers may access their account here. ROMEO works best when accessed using Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer; for best results, do not use other browsers. More information on the ROMEO research portal can be found here.
Research ethics policy
OCAD University adheres to and endorses the principles and guidelines of the TCPS 2 - 2nd edition of Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. The policies and procedures described within it are the final authority in relation to OCAD U's policies and procedures. The TCPS 2 can be found here.
Any OCAD U research that involves living human participants or human biological materials (whether from living or deceased individuals) must be reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Board (REB) of the university. Research projects or pilots (including student projects/training, feasibility studies, etc.) conducted under the auspices of OCAD U and using human participants require ethics approval before the research may begin.
Whether the research is unfunded or funded, whether the funding is internal or external, or whether the research will or will not be submitted for publication, ethics approval is required for research by or involving:
- OCAD U personnel (e.g., full- or part-time academic or non-academic staff, undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, visiting or adjunct scholars, paid or unpaid assistants or associates);
- Paid or unpaid participants (including participants from OCAD U, outside OCAD U, or outside of Canada);
- Secondary resources, records outside the public domain, or naturalistic observations (sources that might allow identification of individuals who have not been given the opportunity for free and informed consent); and
- OCAD U resources (e.g., space, equipment, human resources)
The full life-cycle of an application for research ethics review can be viewed here.
Research that uses human participants but does not require an ethics review includes:
- Research that relies on information that is legally accessible to the public and appropriately protected by law;
- Research that relies on information that is publicly accessible and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy;
- Research that uses publicly available information (e.g., public policy issues, artistic criticism, records, works, archival material) or third party interviews about a live public figure (e.g. an artist). However, research about public figures does require ethics review if an individual is approached directly for an interview or for access to private papers;
- Assessment measures that are part of normal educational requirements, quality assurance, performance review or testing; and
- Naturalistic observations in which the participants seek public visibility (i.e., political rallies, demonstrations, public meetings).
If there is any question as to whether or not a particular research project requires ethics review, the research should be submitted for ethics review.
In keeping with a proportionate approach to research ethics review, the selection of the level of REB review shall be determined by the level of foreseeable risks to participants: the lower the level of risk, the lower the level of scrutiny (delegated review); the higher the level of risk, the higher the level of scrutiny (full board review).
REB responsibilities and authorities
The REB can choose to approve protocols, not approve protocols, require additional information or propose modifications to research submitted for ethics review. (However, even if a research protocol receives ethics approval from the REB, OCAD U retains the right to refuse to allow the research since an institution is accountable for research under its auspices.)
The REB uses procedural justice to provide an independent, impartial, and equitable ethics review of all research at OCAD U that uses human participants. The REB must approve a research protocol using human participants before the research can begin; the Associate Vice-President, Research will not give permission for the release of university-controlled funds until the research is approved by the REB.
The REB has the authority to review ongoing research projects and may terminate research approval if the research project no longer meets the ethical requirements for approval.
The REB is responsible for reviewing student projects within courses or delegating ethics review to the appropriate Faculty.
The REB will continue to develop written ethics review policies and procedures for OCAD U that are at least as stringent as the procedures in the TCPS 2.
The researcher or research team must submit all required documents for ethics approval to the Research Ethics Board coordinator within the office of the associate vice-president, research. In addition to the research protocol, the researcher must submit information about commercial interests and consultative relationships. Review files are kept confidential.
It is the researcher's responsibility to submit the required documents for ethics review, provide responses or questions raised in the interview process, and comply with recommendations of the REB. If the researcher does not provide the required information for the REB or fails to comply with the recommendations of the REB, the research proposal will not receive ethics approval. The researcher will normally receive written notification of the REB decision within 10 days of the decision. A researcher who has received ethics approval must notify the REB when the research has ended so the file can be closed. The closed files will be kept for three years after the project ends. A researcher whose research protocol requires additional information or modifications or whose proposal was not approved may request reconsideration by the REB within one month of the receipt of notification from the REB. Documents supporting the reconsideration, offering rebuttal to the REB objections, or describing modifications to the protocol must be submitted to the REB at least two weeks prior to its next scheduled meeting. If a research protocol is not approved in the reconsideration procedure, the researcher may appeal.
Conflict of interest
To maintain integrity and to ensure accountability, researchers and REB members must notify the REB of any potential, perceived, or actual conflict of interest. Since any researcher or REB member with a real or apparent interest may appear to have a position of undue influence, the REB review process in conflicts of interest is stringent. If a researcher acknowledges the possibility of a conflict of interest, the REB requires the researcher to disclose this information to the participants within the informed consent process. The REB may also require the researcher to disclose the conflict of interest to the research sponsor, institution, relevant professional bodies, etc. In serious conflicts of interest, the REB may require that the researcher withdraw from one of the interests in conflict.
If the REB member acknowledges the possibility of a conflict of interest in the research under review, the member must withdraw from the ethics review of that protocol.
If the researcher or REB member does not agree that the possibility of a conflict of interest exists, the REB requests additional documentation. The researcher or REB member may be asked or may request to appear before the committee; anyone with information may be asked to appear before the committee. After presentation of information, the REB meeting is closed to the researcher or the REB member in question while the rest of the REB members discuss and vote on the issue.
If an OCAD U research proposal using human participants is part of a multi-centered research, the proposal will be submitted for ethics review at all of the participating universities. The REB at OCAD U may communicate with other ethics review boards about the protocol; therefore, contact information for the other review boards looking at the proposal should be included in the information given to the REB. In order to facilitate approval, researchers should consider clearly identifying the core elements of the research that they feel cannot be changed without invalidating the research. Likewise, other elements which can be altered to comply with OCAD U requirements should be identified.
OCAD U is responsible for ethics review of any research undertaken by OCAD U researchers, regardless of the location of the research. If research using human participants extends beyond OCAD U and its jurisdiction, including foreign countries, such research must be submitted for ethics review by the REB at OCAD U and should be submitted for ethics review in the other jurisdiction(s). Researchers should be cognizant of the legal requirements and safeguards relating to ethics reviews for all jurisdictions involved in the research study. Research abroad is held to the spirit of the Helsinki Accords; OCAD U researchers involved in research abroad are directed to the discussion of such research in the TCPS 2.