Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

site header

Unit Research Ethics Board


The purpose of the research ethics review is to protect the rights of research participants.  It has emerged out of gross violations in medical and social science research, where human subjects were lied to, used against their will, or without full understanding of what they are consenting to. An independent review board has been established in all Canadian universities, with the expressed purpose of protecting research participants.  The principles by which this process is conducted are outlined in the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2- 2014)

All research involving human participants is required to undergo this process.

Timeline considerations:

The research ethics review is a multi-step process which requires time and could last a few months.  The CORE course can be taken anytime (see below).  Typically students begin the application process around the time of their proposal defense.  In some cases it is appropriate to apply before the proposal defense. This should be decided in consultation with the supervisory committee.  Applications should be ready to be submitted no later than three months before field research is planned.

The process:

  1. Taking the online ethics tutorial CORE and obtaining the certificate

  2. Starting the application on TRAQ  If you need help with the online application you can attend a monthly session. Dates are available here:

  3. Reviewing the application with supervisor(s) and obtaining a detailed letter of support from supervisor(s).  If working in a community, or within an organization, support letters from those might be appropriate. If working with vulnerable groups, follow specific sections in the TCPS2 (the most common ones are linked below under resources). If need be (especially for CBR and R-C projects where students may have various additional roles such as artist/activist) consult with any of the members of the unit REB (listed below).

  4. Once submitted, the unit REB members will receive a prompt that an application has been submitted. We will review it within two weeks, and in most cases, will return it with requests for modifications and clarifications.  The unit REB does not approve applications, only helps prepare them within disciplinary appropriate standards for the General Research Ethics Board (GREB).  When the unit REB is satisfied that the application is complete, we forward it to GREB.

  5. Based on the level of risk for participants GREB will determine whether the application requires a delegated or a full board review. If delegated (most of our applications), the student will hear back within two weeks. If full board, the time line is longer.  GREB might ask for further clarifications before awarding clearance.

In preparation for applying, please consider the following:

To ensure a smooth and expedient review process, please note the following points:

  • While writing your application you need to position yourself in the “shoes” of the participant. What are the risks they might endure? What part of your methodology could affect the participants?  In the process of applying relate the aspects of the methodology as they pertain to participants. 

  • If you are working in a multi-jurisdiction situation (another country, a reserve) you may need to obtain ethics clearance there. Once obtained, the process at Queen’s is simplified.

  • To find out which activities do not require ethics review (art practices under certain conditions; observation in public space) consult chapter 2 of the TCPS2:

  • Please note that all submissions to GREB must be done on-line. The TRAQ/Romeo interface that is provided by the Office of Research Services is by and large user friendly. If you have any questions or trouble signing in please contact the TRAQ/Romeo Sustainment team by sending email to or by calling tel. 533.6000 ext. 78426.

  • It is vital that you provide enough turnaround time for the internal REB process and GREB review, particularly if you are dealing with sensitive issues and vulnerable populations.



Unit Research Ethics Board mandate

The CUST Unit REB is charged by the Queen’s University General Research Ethics Board (GREB) with providing initial research ethics review for Cultural Studies research that involves human participants in accordance with GREB Policy – “Unit REB Policies & Procedures”. The bulk of this work is carried out electronically, using the Queen’s Human Ethics Application e-System (TRAQ/Romeo). The CUST REB meets on an as-needed basis to deal with non-routine applications or questions of general policy.

Other duties include:

  • Raising the profile and understanding of research ethics issues and procedures among members of the CUST community. This includes annual presentations about research ethics and the review process in the SPEAKS series.

  • Making and revising ethics-related policies, to be approved by Steering and included in the CUST policy document.

  • Presenting a regular report to Steering, via the CUST REB Chair or delegate.

  • Ensuring that appropriate expertise is available for reviewing applications, by maintaining a pool of faculty who have done the training for ethics review.


Unit Research Ethics Board members

Chair: Dorit Naaman (Dept. of Film and Media)

Members: Lisa Guenther, Lois Klassen, Morgan Oddie, Geraldine King, Claude Bock, Ky Pearce