University Research Services

University Research Services
University Research Services

March 20, 2020 The environment related to COVID-19 is fluid and forever changing. Following extensive consultation, we are implementing the following policy for human participant research:

COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions on Research Ethics

Indigenous Based Research
Given the public health concerns of COVID-19 we are requesting that researchers working with Indigenous peoples and/or communities stop research/data gathering and determine when such work may continue only after you have consulted with the community in question. It is best practice to consult with the communities to determine whether they wish for you to continue with the research collaboration.

Non-Hospital Based Research
All non-hospital based research (GREB & HSREB) that requires person-to-person interaction with participants should be suspended. If the research study is providing an essential treatment option that is absolutely necessary for the welfare of the participant(s) a request for exemptions will be required. Exemption requests need to be vetted by Jennifer Couture to bring forward to the appropriate REB Chair for consideration. New ethics applications that require person-to-person interactions with participants will be reviewed and as applicable, Conditional Clearance will be provided with the stipulation that permission will need to be provided by Queen’s University as well as the community partner prior to work commencing . If existing ethics clearance is in place with person-to-person interactions, modifications should be made to eliminate person-to-person interactions without loss of scientific validity (i.e., virtually or through other means). Modifications to New Ethics applications that are able to eliminate these interactions will be considered for review. As greater clarification on risks of COVID-19 spread and risk of infection is provided by Queen’s University and our Public Health partners, these restrictions will be re-assessed. Please visit for the most up to date information on the COVID-19 Outbreak and its Impact on Queen's University Research

Please note we are experiencing a high volume of HSREB submissions. We appreciate your patience at this time
For urgent matters please call 613-533-2988 or email 

Please note the link to the TCPS 2 CORE tutorial has changed, please visit the new webpage here.


Welcome to Research Ethics at Queen's University

Questions about Research Ethics?Schedule a one-on-one meeting with us  today!

Human Participant Research 

The Principal of Queen's University has invested in the Queen’s University Health Sciences and Affiliated Teaching Hospitals Research Ethics Board (HSREB) and the General Research Ethics Board (GREB) the authority to review proposed research involving human participants that is being conducted under the auspices of Queen's University. HSREB primarily reviews health science research, including all research being conducted at the affiliated teaching hospitals (Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KGH and HDH Sites), Hotel Dieu Hospital Research Institute (HDHRI), Providence Care Centre (PCC) and Ongwanada. GREB primarily conducts reviews in the areas of humanities, social science, science, engineering, and administrative research. 

University Animal Care Committee (UACC)

The UACC is a Principal's committee that reports to the VP Research. The UACC is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare by providing leadership and support for the animal care and use program at Queen's University. 

Contact Us
Name and Title Email Phone Number
Dr. Andrew Winterborn
For Scheduling, please contact Mallory Walker
Jennifer Couture
Manager, Research Ethics Compliance
ext. 78223
Crystal McCracken
Ethics Compliance Advisor

ext. 75826
Gail Irving
Ethics Coordinator (GREB)
ext. 78281
Mallory Walker
Ethics Assistant
ext. 74105
Clinical Trials Ontario
Researchers conducting multi-centre clinical trials involving two or more sites in Ontario must use Clinical Trials Ontario streamlined ethics review. For more information, contact the HSREB or CTO: 416-673-6670 or
To Which REB Do I Apply?
Does your research involve?
  • Conducting research in any of the Affiliated Teaching Hospitals (Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KGH and HDH Sites), Kingston General Health Research Institute (KGHRI), Hotel Dieu Hospital Research Institute (HDHRI), Providence Care Centre (PCC) and Ongwanada or in other health care, clinic, or medical settings;
  • Participants from any of the Affiliated Teaching Hospitals or in other health care clinics, or medical settings at any point during the research;
  • Pharmaceutical device, drug, or natural product(s) clinical trials;
  • Medical or physical interventions, treatments, therapies or surgeries;
  • New medical techniques or technologies, deviations from standard of care;
  • Human biological materials from human participants (living or deceased);
  • Physical exertion (beyond walking/ normal daily activities);
  • Medical or dental patients, doctors, nurses, dentists, or any other health care professionals, rehabilitation therapy;
  • Health or medical records;
  • X-ray, CT Scan, PET Scan, MRIs, ultrasound, EKG or other medical tests or scans;
  • Administration/ Ingestion of any substance;
  • Biobanks
If YES to any of the above questions, apply for HSREB Review
If NO to all of the above questions, apply for GREB Review.
When in doubt, seek clarification from the Office of Research Ethics.
Do I Need REB Clearance?

All research studies involving human participants, both living and deceased, require human ethics clearance, where research is defined as “An undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry and/or systematic investigation (TCPS2, 2014)”.

Some exceptions MAY include: 
Research that relies exclusively on publicly available information when:

  • The information is legally accessible to the public and appropriately protected by law;
  • The information is publicly accessible, and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy;
  •  Information revealed on-line where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy is NOT EXEMPT from ethics review (e.g., Facebook). 

Research involving the observation of people in public places where:

  • It does not involve any intervention staged by the researcher, or direct interaction with the individuals or groups;
  • Individuals or groups targeted for observation have no reasonable expectation of privacy; and
  •  Any dissemination of research results does not allow for identification of specific individuals.

Creative practice activities, in and of themselves, do not require ethics clearance; however, research that employs creative practice to obtain responses from participants that will be analyzed to answer a research question does require ethics clearance.

Quality assurance and quality improvement (QA/QI) studies, program evaluation activities, performance reviews, and testing within normal educational requirements, when used exclusively for assessment, management, or improvement purposes do not require ethics clearance.

Some QA/QI considerations that REQUIRE ethics clearance may include:

  • An explicit requirement by a funding agreement or by a prospective journal choice; 
  • The key purpose of QA/QI activities is research; 
  • There is a plan to disseminate findings outside of the institution (e.g., conferences, journals); 
  • Personally identifiable information will be collected;
  • Research associated with QA/QI poses more than minimal risk;
  • The duo-role of practitioner/researcher can be perceived as posing a conflict of interest (e.g., may create conflicts, undue influences, power imbalances, or coercion).

When in doubt, seek clarification from the Office of Research Ethics.

Delegated or Full Board Review?

Considerations for Full Board or Delegated Review

Applications are judged on the level of risk involved. In general Full Board reviews are required for high risk and ethically complex studies or where diverse opinions across researchers are likely. This decision is admittedly subjective.

The decision as to whether or not an application goes to Full Board or delegated review rests with the REB Chair. Possible Full Board review applications may also be flagged by the REB Ethics Coordinator.

Frequently Asked Questions
How do I Apply for Human Participant Ethics Clearance? You must log in to TRAQ to access the Human Participant Ethics Application Forms.

Ethics Flowchart to determine the type of ethics application needed