Requests to the REB for research ethics review are submitted using one of the below intake forms.  The latest version listed on this webpage must be submitted for review in accordance with the SMU REB SOP- Completing Requests for Research Ethics Review Involving Humans

Supervisors must review the SMU REB's SOP- Completing Requests for Research Ethics Review Involving Humans. Pages 2/4 and 3/4 of the SOP itemize the submission requirements of the Board involving initial and continuing review requests.  Please refer to the online version of the SOP on this website as it is updated to reflect the needs of the TCPS and the SMU research community. 

Technical Assistance Contact

For technical assistance while working with forms, please contact the Software and Application Support Centre (SAS) at The SAS Lab can assist with resolving technical issues and skills. The important Working with the Forms- Technical Instructions, Tips and Tricks FAQ from the SAS Lab is also available at the very bottom of this webpage. The REB is not tasked to address technical matters. 

Request for Exempt Review: (Direct to


The general categories of research that require REB review (Form 1) in accordance with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans are defined in TCPS 2, 2022, Chapter A. Article 2.1.:  "A determination that research is the intended purpose of the undertaking is key for differentiating activities that require research ethics review by an REB."  Non-research activities do not require REB review (Form 1) even if they employ methods and techniques similar to those in research.  The TCPS 2 suggests that when in doubt about the applicability of the Policy to a particular project, the researcher shall seek the opinion of their home REB.  This process is not mandatory. 

Initial Research Ethics Review request forms: (Direct to:

  • Form 1 - Application for Ethics Review of Research Involving Humans
  • Form 1 C - Application for Ethics Review of Research Involving Humans Currently Cleared by Another Canadian REB

Continuing Research Ethics Review request forms: (Direct to:

The REB accepts requests at any time during regular university business hours.  If you have any questions, please contact the Office of Research Ethics for guidance at

Note: All requests must be sent electronically as MS Word or PDF documents. 

Preparation Tool: Sample language for drafting Informed Consent Forms/Scripts and Feedback Letters

Important information to applicants drafting requests to the REB:

Keep in mind that members of the Research Ethics Board (REB) review the Form 1 application. Please make sure your application is complete and that the proposed research is demonstrated in detail and in non-technical language.  The process is much like a peer –review process for grant applications and manuscripts, etc. 

If the application is incomplete or lacks sufficient detail, it will need to be returned to the research team, the research ethics review process for the proposal will be delayed until materials and information are received.  REB reviewers can only accept complete proposals.

Complete applications receive an initial acknowledgment of receipt by the Office of Research Ethics followed by a note from the REB Chair within 6-8 weeks after submission, sometimes within a shorter time-frame.  Usually the REB Chair will have questions.  A prompt and thorough response to the REB Chair enables the review process to continue.  Please submit all materials in PDF or Word format without the use of compressed folders.  This ensures proper accessibility and visibility, as the materials would appear to research participants, and avoid delay in the review process.

Student research: If the proposed research is a student research (e.g., thesis, directed study), the faculty supervisor must submit the application (and subsequent continuing review requests) to the REB.  The REB will communicate directly with the faculty supervisor (students can be copied on all communication).  All subsequent communication to the REB must also arrive to the REB directly from the faculty supervisor.

The Office of Research Ethics can walk you through this process and help with the application, review draft work to identify potential difficulties that could be easily fixed before it is submitted to the REB for review.

Please contact the Research Ethics Officer to book a consultation at

Review Process- Instructions, Tips and Common Mistakes

Initial Research Ethics Review:

  1. Form 1 (holds no current research ethics clearance from another Canadian REB):

    Applications are considered complete when the following criteria is met:
    1.  All Form 1 fields are completed;
    2.  All materials requiring REB review are attached;
    3.  All SMU affiliated parties, including the Faculty Supervisor for student research, have signed Form 1;
    4.  Applications are directed to  For student research, applications are sent by the Faculty Supervisor. For faculty or staff research, applications are sent by the Faculty or Staff Principal Investigator.

  2. Form 1C (currently holds research ethics clearance from another Canadian REB):

    a) Up-to-date requirements are provided on top of Form 1C.  Common mistakes involve applicants failing to enclose required documents.  For example, applicants may only submit the research ethics clearance letter/certificate from the other Canadian REB that has granted research ethics clearance.  Please note it is necessary that the application also include all communication that has taken place between the Principal Investigator and the other Canadian institution's REB Chair during the review process.  Omitting these required documents would result in an incomplete application package causing delay.  This communication or set of communication qualifies as evidence of the other Canadian REB's "research ethics review" that applicants are asking their home REB to review at the present time via the Form 1C process.   If you have any questions or need additional guidance, please don't hesitate to contact the Research Ethics Officer at to book a time to go through draft work and questions. 

  3. Research materials:
    Research materials refer to all supporting documents that applicants are asking the REB to review.  Generally, research materials are items such as recruitment scripts/posters, interview protocols, surveys, questionnaires, scales, scripts, tests, draft interview questions, invitation letters, letters of support, feedback forms, debriefing forms, advertisements, other research tools as relevant to the research, letters of support, other REB or government clearances, safety reports involving devices or materials used in the research evidencing compliance to Canadian standards, etc.  

    Form 1 lists common options for documents that must be included in the submission as well as provides a custom field to enter any other additional documents applicants wish to detail they are submitting for their research.  As a tip, at the minimum; a Form 1, an Informed Consent Form/Script, recruitment material and questions to participants in some form are submitted.  

    Research proposals vary extensively and each research will normally consist of different set of materials.  As a rule of thumb, applicants must submit all documents that participants would be exposed to for research ethics review and clearance.  

  4. The REB request forms are routinely updated to comply with Canadian standards and the local research community's needs.  Be sure to download the most current version of the application form directly from this web page at every request.  Outdated versions of requests forms cannot be registered for research ethics review.

  5. Research applications must be submitted to the REB by faculty (i.e., full-time, part-time, and adjunct), librarians, and post-doctoral fellows, unless the aforementioned are also students.  All students must submit their applications to the REB via a faculty supervisor.  Staff members must submit applications with a faculty supervisor or demonstrate to the REB that they have sufficient expertise to conduct a particular type of research independently.

Continuing Research Ethics Review Requests

Reports of Unanticipated Issues, Requests for Changes to Cleared Research (Form 2), Annual Status Report (Form 3) and End of Research Report (Form 5) requests:

  1. All requests are directed to due to the time-sensitive nature of these requests.  Requests are accepted from the Principal Investigator of the research or, in case of student research, from the Faculty Supervisor.  Student researchers must ask their Faculty Supervisors to submit requests to the REB.  

Working with the Forms - Technical Instructions, Tips and Tricks

Working with Request Forms - Technical Instructions and Tips

The REB forms are Adobe fillable, savable, PDF forms – they must be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader to ensure that they look and function correctly.

Additional blank space is available on Form 1.  If applicants have further additional information to convey, additional supporting documents are welcome.

Tips and Tricks - FAQs

1. How do I open the form in Adobe Acrobat Reader?

To open the form on a Windows PC or MAC, using Adobe Acrobat Reader:

  1. Right-click on the form
  2. Select Open With
  3. Select Adobe Acrobat Reader.

2. I don’t have Adobe installed on my computer. How do I proceed?

You can download a free non-trial version of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC here.

3. Can I save the form and edit my answers at a later time?

Yes, with Adobe, you can save the form and re-open it later to complete it or edit your answers.  However, once a PDF form is signed, answers cannot be edited. When you sign a PDF using your digital ID, the PDF becomes read-only for others and cannot be edited later.  If you received a PDF digitally signed by others, you can sign it, but can’t edit it. The form is locked once it is signed in order to protect the new content.

Before you sign a PDF form, always save an unsigned copy in case you need to edit it later. For example, in order for the REB to register a review request it requires that all questions on the form be completed.  Incomplete or partial applications cannot be registered and are not retained at the REB, but applicants will be notified if their draft work was received incomplete and the REB is unable to process it further. In such a scenario, applicants will need to edit their incomplete draft work.  In order to easily do this, applicants will need an unsigned/unlocked copy on record so they can edit the incomplete draft work.

4. Why can’t I use other programs to open the forms?

Opening the Forms in a web browser or other programs such as Preview (on MAC) may cause issues with saving and editing the forms.

For technical assistance while working with the forms please contact the Software and Application Support Centre (SAS) at The SAS can assist SMU users with resolving their technical problems.







Contact us

Office of Research Ethics
Atrium 210
Mailing address:
Office of Research Ethics
923 Robie Street,
Halifax, NS, B3H-3C3