Ethics FAQS

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

When should I submit my research ethics protocol?

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 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.

What are the deadlines for submitting my protocol to the REB via MRHP?

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.

I have never prepared or submitted an ethics protocol before. Where can I get some help? Can you give me some tips to help me?

The Faculty of Information has prepared a guide to assist graduate students in preparing and submitting an ethics protocol application.

Applicants are advised to refer to the Guide for Informed Consent Documents when preparing information and consent letters and forms.

For questions related to the content of the ethics protocol, you can schedule an Ethics Consultation.

For help using My Research Human Protocols, you can review the User Guides and Tip Sheets prepared by University of Toronto Research Services.

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.

For MRHP system support or with questions about how to get access to the system, contact the RAISE helpdesk:

Where can I download the worksheet version of the ethics protocol application?

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 to make the determination regarding exemption from research ethics review.

  • For Faculty, Status-Only Appointees, and Post-Doctoral Fellows

  • For Graduate Students (including reading courses)

  • For Courses