When conducting research as a member of the college community, whether at Lethbridge College or under the auspices of Lethbridge College, it is advisable that you be familiar with:
- the ethical use of human subjects in research
- the college’s research and copyright policies and procedures
- provincial and federal legislation
The Research Ethics Board (REB) reviews ethics applications to ensure that research studies meet the highest ethical standards of research involving human participants, in accordance with Lethbridge College’s Research Involving Human Participants Policy and the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2).
Is it research?
Before you tackle the task of writing an ethics application, you first need to determine if your project is research or quality assurance.
Quality assurance/improvement: When an organization is interested in assessing or improving some aspect of its performance (e.g. job satisfaction, safety compliance), it may conduct quality assurance or improvement studies. Similarly, schools may test their students within normal educational requirements (e.g. to assess knowledge retention). These activities are usually not considered research as defined by TCPS2 and do not require REB review.
It can be difficult to assess if your project is research or quality assurance, so we’ve provided some tools below to help determine where your project fits.
- ARECCI: Developed by Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS), this online tool asks a few simple questions to help you perform a self-assessment of your project.
- Comparison: We’ve created a chart comparing research and quality assurance to help you understand the differences between the two.
- REB Protocol Guidelines: This document provides more information on how to prepare a REB protocol, including additional exclusions to REB review.
Even if you determine your project is quality assurance, it must be conducted in an ethical manner. Please review the AIHS guidelines for conducting projects in an ethically sound manner.
Still unsure if your project is quality assurance or research? Please contact REB Coordinator, Constance Sheriff, for assistance.
Seeking consent for research participation is fundamental to the ethical principle of Respect for Persons. Prospective participants, who have the capacity to consent on their own behalf, have the reasonable expectation that they will be treated as autonomous individuals able to make decisions about the risks they consider acceptable and the information they choose to share with researchers.
As the researcher, it is your responsibility to be aware of any additional consent requirements or regulations that apply to your research. For more information on informed consent, review the REB Protocol Guidelines and the informed consent template.
Course-based research varies in scope but includes activities such as students:
- conducting interviews
- administering standardized tests
- distributing questions
It also includes conducting projects that pose research questions, gather data from human participants and analyze that data for presentation.
Course-based research activities are different from Professional Skill Development activities, which are exempt from ethical review requirements.
In the case of course-based research, the instructor holds primary responsibility for the ethics review application and for student adherence to ethical treatment of human participants. The student(s) hold secondary responsibility.
For further information, please read the Guidelines for Course-Based Research.
Submitting a research ethics protocol
Step 1: Review the REB Protocol Guidelines.
Step 2: Have all new investigators, research assistants and student research assistants involved with the project complete the Tri-Council Policy Statement Tutorial.
Step 3: Complete one of the following applications:
- General Protocol Review: For institutional ethics review and approval.
- Protocol Extension/Modification: For extending or modifying approved research projects.
- Course-Based Student Research Ethics Application Involving Humans: For research conducted as part of course curriculum.
Step 4: Submit all documents (TCPS2 certificates, appropriate application form, consent form and all study materials that will be given to or seen by participants) in electronic format to interim Coordinator, Constance Sheriff.
The REB meets face-to-face on a semi-annual basis, once in the fall and once in the spring. Throughout the academic year, monthly meetings occur electronically and additional face-to-face meetings occur as needed. All applications must be received in full on or before the 15th of each month to be reviewed during the next meeting.
Reviews are conducted from the end of August to the end of May, when board members are on campus. Reviews do not occur through the summer months, as board members are unavailable between June and the end of August.
If you are unsure of how to prepare an ethics protocol, our Canvas course can guide you through the process: How to Develop an Ethics Protocol
Research ethics forms
Provincial and federal legislation
Research may be affected by provincial or federal acts respecting the freedom of information and protection of privacy and electronic communications. As a researcher, you should familiarize yourself with the following legislation:
- Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP)
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
- Alberta Health Information Act (HIA)
For more information, application forms and submission deadlines, please contact REB Coordinator, Constance Sheriff.