Research Ethics

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), 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. 


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.

Ethics Compliance Application Forms Descriptions

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

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.

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.

Clinical Trials Ontario

Clinical Trials Ontario improves clinical trials for a better Ontario.

Researchers conducting multi-centre clinical trials involving two or more sites
in Ontario must use Clinical Trials Ontario streamlined ethics review.