Requirements for Ethics Review

Does my research project need ethics approval?

In Canada, the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) governs ethics review and states the following:

  1. All research that involves living human subjects requires review and approval by an REB in accordance with this Policy Statement, before the research is started, except as stipulated below.

  2. Research involving human remains, cadavers, tissues, biological fluids, embryos or fetuses shall also be reviewed by the REB.

  3. Research about a living individual involved in the public arena, or about an artist, based exclusively on publicly available information, documents, records, works, performances, archival materials or third-party interviews, is not required to undergo ethics review. Such research only requires ethics review if the subject is approached directly for interviews or for access to private papers, and then only to ensure that such approaches are conducted according to professional protocols and to Article 2.3 of this Policy. 

  4. Quality assurance studies, performance reviews or testing within normal educational requirements should also not be subject to REB review.

Research Not Requiring Ethics Review

Projects which concentrate on the following investigations are not required to be submitted to the UBC C&W REB for ethical review:

  • Internal quality assurance (quality of care or quality assurance projects that are for presentation within the hospital)
  • Health Information Services for chart review that is for “in-house” purposes such as rounds or continuous quality improvement
  • Studies to establish normative values for clinical purposes
  • Innovative interventions, which are the responsibility of the Department Heads and the Medical Advisory Committee

However, if publication is planned for any of the above listed activities or new knowledge will be gained and shared with external parties, UBC C&W REB approval must be obtained prior to commencement of the project.  The UBC C&W REB does not give retrospective approval under any circumstances.  

If there is any uncertainty as to if your project requires ethics review, please contact the UBC C&W REB at