Research involving human participants conducted by faculty members and graduate students under the auspices of the University of Toronto must be reviewed and approved by a University of Toronto Research Ethics Board (REB) prior to its commencement.
Investigators are advised to submit well in advance of their anticipated start date. We recommend that researchers begin the process two months (8 weeks) prior to the start of the research.
The overall duration of a given review will depend on how many rounds of revision are required. The initial review of the application by the Faculty of Information Research Funding Coordinator and Associate Dean, Research, can take up to FIFTEEN (15) working days. Following this, the initial REB review can take up to five weeks.
Note: All research that is conducted in schools must have administrative consent/permission prior to recruitment. Some school boards, including the Toronto District School Board, require protocol review by their Research Committee before gaining administrative permission. This approval process can take several weeks or months. Please contact the school board to be involved with your research for further information.
The deadline for delegated review is EVERY Monday (or first business day of the week) by 4 pm. Each cycle through the delegated review process (i.e. initial review or review of revisions) takes approximately 4-5 weeks to complete from the date the study was sent to the reviewer.
Please consult the Research Ethics Board webpage for the most up to date Full Review submission and meeting dates.
The Faculty of Information highly recommends that you enroll in a Faculty/Graduate Research Ethics Workshop before preparing the protocol. These workshops are conducted twice per year and require advanced registration. The schedule is posted on the Office of Research Ethics website, where you can find information on one-on-one consultation, in-person training, and other online resources to guide you in preparing your protocol.
For questions related to the content of the ethics protocol, you can contact the Research Ethics Coordinator at 416-946-3273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a student. Can I make an appointment with the Research Funding Coordinator?
Your first point of contact is your supervisor. For questions specifically about ethics, the University of Toronto’s Office of Research Ethics is available to answer your questions and offers one-on-one consultations with students.
- We have prepared a “Common Mistakes” document that addresses the most common mistakes that we see in ethics applications
- Applicants are advised to refer to the Guide for Informed Consent Documents when preparing information and consent letters and forms.
- If applicants are preparing ethics protocol submissions that involve key informant interviews, deception, or participant observation, please refer to Ethical Guidelines on Interviewing Public Personalities, Guidelines for the Use of Deception and Debriefing in Research, or Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Participant Observation.
You can download the Word version of the ethics protocol application here.
I’m working with human participants in my project, however I am not sure if what I am doing is considered research/requires prior approval from the REB. How can I find out?
Activities that constitute program evaluation, quality assurance (QA) or quality improvement (QI) within the mandate of an organization or office may be exempt from research ethics review under the the federal research ethics guidelines, the Tri-council policy statement: Ethical conduct for research involving humans, 2nd Edition (TCPS-2), Article 2.5 and the University of Toronto’s Principles to Determine Exemption from Research Ethics Review.
The TCPS-2, Article 2.1 states:
“In some cases, research may involve interaction with individuals who are not themselves the focus of the research in order to obtain information. For example, one may collect information from authorized personnel to release information or data in the ordinary course of their employment about organizations, policies, procedures, professional practices or statistical reports. Such individuals are not considered participants for the purposes of this Policy. This is distinct from situations where individuals are considered participants because they are themselves the focus of the research. For example, individuals who are asked for their personal opinions about organizations, or who are observed in their work setting for the purposes of research, are considered participants.”
The Office of Research Ethics has created a Quality Control/Assurance and Research Checklist form to determine whether ethics review is required. The screening guide is intended to help clarify such determinations, and people proposing to engage in program evaluation/QA/QI-type activities should e-mail the completed form to email@example.com to make the determination regarding exemption from research ethics review.
For Faculty, Status-Only Appointees, and Post-Doctoral Fellows
A completed application for Ethics Approval should be sent to the Research Funding Coordinator (RFC) no less than FIFTEEN (15) working days before it needs to be submitted to the relevant Research Ethics Board (REB). Early submission should give sufficient time for review by the ADR, time for her to seek clarifications (if necessary), and allow for any necessary changes to be made.
Please submit the MRHP – Application Worksheet protocol, including appendices, as a single Microsoft Word document, with file name: your last name_ethics_date.
After the application has received the approval of the ADR, the investigator will submit the online application via My Research Human Protocols (MRHP) to be reviewed by the REB.
Detailed information and instructions can be found here
For Graduate Students
Where the Ethics Approval is for research associated with a doctoral dissertation, the application should first be reviewed and approved by the supervisor. Note: Supervisors are also responsible for generating the invitation to allow their students to access MRHP. The instructions to do so can be found here.
After the supervisor is satisfied with the application, they will forward the application and the Graduate Student Ethics Protocol Submission Checklist to the RFC and ADR no less than TEN (10) working days before it needs to be submitted to the REB for review and approval.
Please submit the student’s MRHP – Application Worksheet protocol, including appendices, as a single Microsoft Word document, with file name: student’s last name_ethics_date.
The RFC/ADR will follow up with the student directly, and copy the supervisor on all communication.
After the application has received the approval of the ADR, the student will submit the online application via My Research Human Protocols (MRHP) to be reviewed by the REB.
For Courses, Including Independent Reading Courses
Ethics protocols for courses taught within the Faculty of Information should be submitted to the ADR for her review and approval no less than TWENTY (20) working days before it needs to be submitted to the REB.
Please note that reading courses which include coursework using human subjects will require ethics approval. This process can take time, therefore applicants to reading courses should discuss this with the proposed course instructor and the Associate Dean, Research, well in advance of the proposed course start date. Where the ethics approval is for research associated with a reading course, the request for Ethics approval should be first reviewed and approved by the supervisor and/or course instructor, and then the supervisor and/or course instructor should forward the application to the ADR for review and approval no less than TWENTY (20) working days before it needs to be submitted to the REB.
Please submit the MRHP – Course Application Worksheet protocol as a Word document, with file name: your last name_ethics_date. Make sure that the protocol and additional material (research instruments, consent forms, etc.) are submitted as one compiled document. After the application has received the approval of the ADR, the course instructor will submit the online application via My Research Human Protocols (MRHP) to be reviewed by the REB.
Detailed information and instructions can be found here