Research Ethics Board

Research Ethics Board

Welcome to the website of the Saint Mary's University (SMU) Research Ethics Board (REB).

The SMU REB reviews and provides clearance for research involving human participants under the jurisdiction of Saint Mary's University and NSCAD University as well as serves as the Appeals Board for Mount Saint Vincent University; as determined by the federal Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, TCPS 2.  

All research with human participants, as defined by the TCPS, must be reviewed and cleared by the REB before it is conducted, before the recruitment of participants commences.  Researchers contact the REB for direction determining whether the activity is considered research with human participants according to the TCPS and requires REB review and clearance or is exempt from the submission requirement.  For general and contact information relating to the Saint Mary's University Animal Care Committee, please visit our Contacts page.

This website has been designed to help you learn about the ethical principles and preparations that are involved with conducting research with human participants, determine what policies and procedures relate to your own work, review previous questions from your peers, note when education sessions are being held, opportunities for consultation, and to utilize the resources and forms needed for a submission to the SMU REB.

Participating in Research?

Questions to ask about participating in research:

There are different reasons why people engage in research. The information here focuses on people who join or are thinking about joining research studies as research participants.

A lot of research cannot be done without the help of people willing to join studies. Often people want to know more about taking part in research, but do not know what kind of questions to ask.  Here you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about participating in research.

The answers are based on Canada’s research ethics policy, the second edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). Many researchers in Canada are required by their institutions to use it to help design and conduct their research. However, there is a lot of research conducted in Canada, especially in the private sector, that does not have to follow TCPS 2. You should always feel free to ask researchers what ethical standards apply to their research, and how you can learn more about them.

FAQs- Frequently Asked Questions for Participants

Brochure - Taking Part in Research


Upcoming SMU Community Research Ethics Education Session:

Community-wide education sessions, "Understanding the Research Ethics Review Process", are held at the beginning of each Fall and Winter terms.  In addition to these sessions, in-class or group sessions of various lengths are frequently requested and one-on-one consultation to supervisors with their students or alone are available daily by appointment.

The session is tailored to all researchers, students, faculty and staff attend.

Please visit our Education page for details, updates and to request a session for your class.


Ottawa, ON (December 20, 2017)

The Panel on Research Ethics is pleased to announce a new set of educational resources to assist people who are participating in research or are considering joining a research study. This material offers information about how the ethics guidance in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans (TCPS) provides protection for research participants. It is intended for a broad audience.

The brochure “Taking Part in Research” provides basic information online and in print about participation in research. 

"Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Participants" provides more specific information on topics such as privacy, risks and benefits, and consent, based on TCPS guidance.

These new resources are available online for the general public. Researchers are encouraged to use them to enhance their communication when recruiting participants, or during the course of study. Research ethics boards and institutions can use the resources in their educational efforts and in raising public awareness about the ethics of research involving humans.

The Panel welcomes user feedback from the research community and research participants.


Ottawa, ON (April 25, 2017)

In October 2016, the Panel on Research Ethics released proposed changes to TCPS 2 (2014) to the public for comment. Written comments were accepted until January 31, 2017. All comments received are posted online unless the contributor requested that they remain confidential. (Of the 72 comments received, 65 are posted.) Comments are posted in the language in which they were received.

The Panel appreciates the thoughtful responses submitted by Canada’s research community. This valuable feedback will now be taken into consideration as the Panel and Secretariat prepare recommendations to the federal research Agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) that are responsible for approving revisions to TCPS 2 (2014).


"A message from the three federal research agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), or “the Agencies” –

 The Presidents of the Agencies are pleased to announce the release of TCPS 2 (2014) – the revised version of the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). TCPS 2 (2014) replaces TCPS 2 (2010) as the official human research ethics policy of the Agencies."

The Policy

Canada's three federal research agencies, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, jointly created the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE of the Panel) as part of a collaborative effort to promote the ethical conduct of research involving human participants.

The Panel develops, interprets and implements the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) and requires that all faculty, student, staff, funded or unfunded research proposals that involve human participants and fall under the TCPS 2 be brought before the REB for review and approval. Please note that the electronic version of the TCPS 2 is the official version of the Policy. The TCPS 2 replaced the 1st edition of the TCPS on November 29, 2010.  The newest version is the TCPS 2, December 2014.

The REB advises all prospective applicants to read the Tri-Council Policy Statement and complete the TCPS 2 Course on Research Ethics (CORE) online tutorial. The tutorial will help applicants familiarize themselves with the TCPS 2 and consider their research in this light.


The Board

The Saint Mary's University REB is mandated to review and provide clearance for research proposals that involve human participants.  The REB provides a service to the University community by working together with researchers to identify and resolve ethical issues in their research in order to protect the interests of research participants, maximize the benefits of the research and minimize harms.

The Board consists primarily of faculty members, staff, graduate students, as well as members from the community who are non-affiliated to the University. The REB is tasked to clear, reject, propose modifications to, suspend or terminate research activity that involve human participants and fall under the jurisdiction of Saint Mary's University. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions or to better understand how policies relate to your research and feel free to contact the Office of Research Ethics at or 420-5728.

We seek to improve our procedures for implementing the TCPS 2 and our SMU REB policies and appreciate comments and recommendations you may have.


No research with human participants shall begin before clearance is received from the University's Research Ethics Board. Research protocols must have a valid Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance/Continuation. This includes the recruitment of research participants. Please seek our guidance whenever necessary.