Human Research Ethics Board

Welcome to the website of the Saint Mary's University (SMU) Research Ethics Board (REB).

The SMU REB reviews and provides clearance for research involving human participants under the jurisdiction of Saint Mary's University and NSCAD University as well as serves as the appeals Board for Mount Saint Vincent University; as determined by the federal Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, (TCPS 2, 2022).

Are you currently participating in a research study?

This website offers a listing of all currently active research that hold SMU REB clearance.

There are different reasons why people engage in research. The information here focuses on people who join or are considering joining research studies as research participants.

A lot of research cannot be done without the help of people willing to join studies. Often people want to know more about taking part in research, but do not know what kind of questions to ask.  Here you will find answers to some frequently asked questions about participating in research.

The answers are based on Canada’s research ethics policy, the second edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2, 2022).  Many researchers in Canada are required by their institutions to use it to help design and conduct their research.  However, there is a lot of research conducted in Canada, especially in the private sector, that does not have to follow TCPS 2, (2022). You should always feel free to ask researchers what ethical standards apply to their research, and how you can learn more about them.  Feel free to explore the below links designed for research participants for information about participating in research and its collaborative process. 

FAQs- Frequently Asked Questions for Participants

Brochure - Taking Part in Research

Are you currently a researcher?

All research with human participants, as defined by the TCPS 2 (2022), must be reviewed and cleared by the REB before it is conducted, this means, before the recruitment of participants commences. 

What is the first step?

Researchers may contact the REB for assistance determining whether the activity is considered research with human participants according to the TCPS 2 (2022) and requires REB clearance or whether it is considered an activity exempt from REB clearance.  TCPS 2 , Chapter 2. Scope of Research Ethics Review. Articles 2.1 to 2.6 is helpful reading in the course of determining whether research is the intended purpose of the undertaking. 

A Request for Exempt Review demonstrates the presently known plans of the researcher and is directed to The REB will conduct a "review" of the demonstration for researchers to determine whether the proposal is exempt form "clearance" or requires "clearance" and an application to the REB is the next step. This means, a "review" is always available.  For this reason, this step normally is the first step researchers elect when they work together with the REB, versus an application for initial research ethics review (Form 1/1C). This process is not mandatory, however researchers are advised to either hold an REB exemption or an REB clearance.

This website has been designed to help researchers learn about the ethical principles and preparations that are involved with conducting research with human participants, determine what policies and procedures relate to the work, review previous questions from your peersopportunities for consultation, and to utilize the resources and request forms needed for making initial review and subsequent continuing review requests to the SMU REB.

For general and contact information relating to the Saint Mary's University Animal Care Committee, please visit their own page.

The Policy

Canada's three federal research agencies, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, jointly created the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE or the Panel) as part of a collaborative effort to promote the ethical conduct of research involving human participants.

The Panel develops, interprets and implements the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2, 2022) and requires that all faculty, student, staff, funded or unfunded research proposals that involve human participants and fall under the TCPS 2 be brought before the REB for review and clearance. Please note that the electronic version of the TCPS 2 is the official version of the Policy.  The newest version is the TCPS 2, 2022. 

The REB advises all prospective applicants to read the Tri-Council Policy Statement and complete the TCPS 2 Course on Research Ethics (CORE) online tutorial. The tutorial will help applicants familiarize themselves with the TCPS 2 (2022) and consider the research in this light.

The Panel of Research Ethics shares a growing collection of its responses to written requests for interpretation of the Policy.  Researchers are advised to utilize the Glossary section of the TCPS 2, 2022 to locate terms and definitions.  Specifically, the definition of Information (Types) that helps gain an understanding what type of information the researcher plans on collecting from research participants as defined in this Policy.  The aim is to gain skills in using a common language between research participants, REBs, researchers and the public.

Researchers who plan to work with First nations data are highly recommended to complete the The Fundamentals of OCAP® online training. This self-guided course takes learners through  modules that are designed to introduce the fundamental concepts of OCAP®, information governance, and First Nations data sovereignty. 

Providing access to (researchers) and locating the findings of a research study (research participants):

Researchers should make the results of their research available to their research participants, the people who provided information for that research to be possible. Asking participants to contact the researcher to discover the results can pose difficulties for both participants and researchers. Participants may find it burdensome and uncomfortable to be required to identify themselves to researchers to access the findings; this problem is intensified when participants were assured their participation would be anonymous. Researchers may find it burdensome to have participants contact them to find out the results because researchers would then be faced with the obligation to safeguard participants’ identifying information.

A good practice is to remove barriers for participants to access the research findings and to make these findings easily accessible. The choice that researchers make to give participants access to the results of their research should be participant-focused.

One option that may be appropriate is for researchers to give participants a link where they would be able to find a summary of the results in the future. This link could be provided during the informed consent process, in a feedback or a debriefing form.  Saint Mary’s University provides a web page, "Summaries of Completed Research", to help researchers convey their results.  Researcher who wish to post their summaries contact Of course, researchers may use other web pages if they wish.

Related reading and tips involving handling the dissemination of research results is available at TCPS 2, 2022, Article 4.8.

The Board

The Saint Mary's University REB is mandated to review and provide clearance for research proposals that involve human participants.  The REB provides a service to the University community by working together with researchers to identify and resolve ethical issues in their research in order to protect the interests of research participants, maximize the benefits of the research and minimize harms.

The Board consists primarily of faculty members, staff, graduate students, as well as members from the community who are non-affiliated to the University. The REB is tasked to clear, reject, propose modifications to, suspend or terminate research activity that involve human participants and fall under the jurisdiction of Saint Mary's University. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the year.  There are no pre-determined submission deadlines to make requests to the REB. 

For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions or to better understand how policies relate to your research, feel free to contact the Office of Research Ethics at

We seek to improve our procedures for implementing the TCPS 2 (2022) and our SMU REB policies and appreciate comments and recommendations you may have.


Any research involving human participants or human biological materials (including human embryos, fetuses, fetal tissue, reproductive materials and stem cells) must be submitted to the University’s Research Ethics Board. 

Pilot studies (i.e., endeavors intended to inform the design of another study by collecting data from humans) require REB review prior to any undertaking.  Research review is not required before making contact with any individual or community as long as the purpose is to establish a partnership and does not involve data collection for the purpose of the research.

No research with human participants shall begin before research ethics clearance is received from the University’s Research Ethics Board. Research protocols must have a valid Certificate of Research Ethics Clearance/Continuation. This includes piloting and the recruitment stages of the research project.  Please seek guidance from the REB Officer ( or REB Co-Chairs, Dr. Leanna Closson ( or Dr. Jim Cameron (, whenever necessary.


Contact us

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