Decision Making

Decision Making FAQ

Review Period Questions:

  1. What should I do after I submitted my application package for review?
  2. When will I hear a respone from the REB?
  3. What are possible responses I could hear from the REB?
  4. What happens if my proposal involves no more than minimal risk?
  5. How will I be notified of the Board's decision?
  6. What happens after my initial response from the REB Chair?
  7. What tips can you provide to an applicant who is in the process of answering the REB?
  8. Can I submit my revision electronically or do I have to send original copies to the Office of Research Ethics and if so, how many copies should I include?
  9. How long can I expect the review to take from the the time I submit my revisions?
  10. When can I expect to start my research?
  11. When/how will I be notified that my research has the status of ethical clearance from the REB?
  12. When/how will I receive my Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance?
  13. How long does my research ethics clearance last?

Answers:

1. What should I do after I submitted my application package for review?

Once you submitted your application you will receive an email receipt from the Office of Research Ethics detailing your SMU REB registration number.  Researchers place their SMU REB registration number their research documents before they are disseminated to research participants.  Regardless whether clarifications are asked by the Board or not, having the SMU REB registration number on the Informed Consent Form and supporting documents (Recruitment letter, Feedback letter, Debriefing Letter and Advertisements) is a requirement so participants can reference the study to the investigators and the REB. 


2. When will I hear a response from the REB?

Applications are reviewed shortly after they are received.  All reviews are processed as expeditiously as possible.  It is important that application packages are fully complete to avoid delays.   It is also possible that the REB may seek expert in-house or off-site advice about an application. Generally, the review process, from initial submission to final approval, takes 6-8 weeks, faster during slower periods.  The Board often completes the process in a shorter period but this cannot be guaranteed and the turn around time is entirely based on the work that has been submitted. The process may take longer during busier times of the academic year, typically October to February.  The REB Chair will contact applicants in writing by email.  It is common for the REB Chair to seek clarification from applicants on various issues; a prompt and thorough response from applicants to the REB Chair's questions facilitates the review and clearance process.


3. What are possible responses I could hear from the REB?

First, the level of risk of the proposal will be assessed and receive either of the following decision:

  • Minimal risk:  The REB Chair will communicate the questions from the committee members and request information in writing via email, (reb.chair@smu.ca).
  • Exceeds minimal risk: The REB Chair will notify the research team that a full meeting of the REB will be scheduled to discuss the study.

Secondly, the recommendatoin from committee members will be communicated by the REB Chair.  Possible recommendations involving the proposal include:

  • Cleared
  • Clarifications are requested
  • Resubmission is required
  • Denied

The REB Chair and the Research Ethics Officer will work together with you to explain the process, answer any questions you may have and provide guidance throughout the review process.


 

4. What happens if my proposal involves no more than minimal risk?

The application is reviewed by two committee members and the REB Chair.  The REB Chair will communicate the questions from the committee members and request information in writing via email, (reb.chair@smu.ca).


5. How will I be notified of the Board's decision?

The REB Chair will notify all members of the research team in writing via email.  The communication includes the level of risk and itemizes the questions that have been raised by REB committee members.  Keep in mind, just as the investigators, the REB is a point of contact to participants and must be able to clearly communicate with participants about the research. 


6. What happens after the initial response from the REB Chair?

The initial response from the REB Chair includes requests for information.  This process may include revising some of your research materials.  The REB Chair will ask you to revise any relating research materials but to not submit Form 1 or Form 1C again.  There is no need to revise the application form during the review.

What is important during this stage is that you follow the instructions of the REB Chair.  This involves answering all questions that are being raised thereby submitting a fully completed response, with no missing points and sending your response directly to the REB Chair (reb.chair@smu.ca).  The REB Chair will ask that you "reply all" to the REB Chair's request. Replying all means that the REB Chair (reb.chair@smu.ca) , the Research Ethics Officer (ethics@smu.ca) , and all members of your research team are copied.   At times applicants do not copy the REB Chair on their response and this would cause delays.  The REB asks that applicants check who the response is being sent "to" in reply and simply chose "reply all".

Take note that you are not being asked to resubmit Form 1 or Form 1C.  This means that you do not have to fill out the application form again and attach it with your response package.  The REB Chair asks that applicants document your responses in the body of the response email. Students must send their work via the Faculty Supervisor.  Responses must arrive from the Faculty Supervisor's email address and cannot be accepted from the student investigator only.  This means that simply "copying" the Faculty Supervisor does not suffice and applicants would experience delays until the REB Chair receives the response in the requested manner.


7. What tips can you provide to an applicant who is in the process of answering the REB?

  • For student applicants, ensure that your supervisor sends all communication to the REB.  Neither the REB Chair nor the Research Ethics Officer is in a position to be able to accept requests for review from students only.  
  • Contact the Office of Research Ethics with questions and concerns at any point.  Help is always available. Office hours for the Research Ethics Officer are Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am to 12 pm.  To book a slot, please contact ethics@smu.ca.
  • Feel free to seek clarification from the REB Chair if you are uncertain as to what is being asked.  Ensure that you answer all questions fully.  Ensure that you revise documents if necessary and that the docuemnts are free of error.
  • It is in the applicant’s best interest to respond to the REB in a timely manner so the research can be cleared and recruitment of research participants may begin. 

8. Can I submit my revision electronically or do I have to send original copies to the Office of Research Ethics and if so, how many copies should I include?

Yes. You may submit your revised documents electronically.  Note the instructions from the REB Chair in the correspondence you have been sent.  It will ask you to send your response electronically as well as to specifically chose "reply all".  The REB Chair, the Research Ethics Officer and all members of the research team receive a copy of the revisions.  Note, in cases of student research, the response must arrive from the faculty supervisor.

No. Manual copies are not required and you are not being asked to fill out Form 1 or Form 1C again.


 

9. How long can I expect the review to take from the time that I submit my revisions?

The response time from the REB to revisions is normally done during the week it is received.  It is a common mistake that either responses are not received from the faculty supervisor in case of student research and delays are experienced for this reason or that the REB Chair is not copied on the response at all.  The REB asks that in cases of student research the faculty supervisor submit the response to the REB by "replying all" to the REB Chair's email requesting clarifications and address each question the REB Chair has summerized on behalf of the REB committee members.


10. When can I expect to start my research?

Recruitment can begin only once the project has SMU REB clearance.  The REB Chair will communicate to you when recruitment can start.  In addition to the REB Chair's communicating that the proposal has received research ethics clearance, you will be provided with a Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance electronically.  A copy of this certificate is also stored in your master file in the Office of Research Ethics.  If you need any guidance or have any questions about your documents, feel free to book a time with the Research Ethics Officer.


11. When/how will I be notified that my research has the status of ethical acceptability from the REB?

The REB Chair will email all investigators that the project has REB clearance.  You may recruit participants into your research study at that time.  If you have any questions, please contact the Research Ethics Officer for help and guidance.


12. When/how will I receive my Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance?

Shortly after you received the email from the REB Chair that the project has REB clearance, a Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance will be issued to the investigators of the research.  You will receive an electronic copy of your certificate via email. 

Ensure that you fully review your Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance as it stipulates the conditions, details and your continuing review reporting requirements of your research ethics clearance.

Contact the Research Ethics Officer if you need additional explanations and guidance involving the continuing review responsibilities and you can pick up a brochure that explains the process from the Office of Research Ethics, Atrium 202, if you don't already have one.  Supervisors are encouraged to pick up copies for their own quick reference and to disseminate it to their research students.  Please contact the Research Ethics Officer if you would like copies of the quick reference guide sent to you.


13. How long does my research ethics clearance last?

Normally, REB approval is valid for the period of one year unless the SMU REB conditions otherwise.  It might be a shorter time frame if investigators aren't aware of some aspects of their research yet at the time of the initial review and the researchers and the REB agree that a review is needed before the standard mimimum annual review.  The start and end dates are specified on the Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance.  If you need to extend the research, it is renewable upon submission of a renewal form for a previously approved project, a Form 3.  Please refer to "Continuing Review Requirements" in the FAQ section and if you have any questions reach out to the Research Ethics Officer for help and guidance.

Ensure that you fully review your Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance as it stipulates the conditions, details and your continuing review reporting requirements of your research ethics clearance.