Research Ethics Board

The Research Ethics Board (REB) has been mandated by Lethbridge College policy to examine and approve research proposals involving human subjects. It has been created to ensure that ethical principles and standards respecting the personal welfare and rights of subjects have been recognized and accommodated. All research and research-related activity involving human participants conducted under the auspices of the College shall fall within the jurisdiction of the Research Ethics Board.


  • Research is defined as a systematic investigation to establish facts, principles or knowledge.
  • This applies to all research which is conducted within, or by members of, Lethbridge College, regardless of funding source or research location.
  • Members of the College include faculty members, administrators, all other employees of the College, and students.
  • The REB has authority to approve, reject, propose modifications to, or terminate both new proposals and on-going research.
  • Approval of new proposals must be granted before the research is started.
  • Ongoing research shall be subject to continuing ethics review.

Is it Research? Quality Assurance vs. Research

Before you tackle the task of writing an ethics protocol, you first need to determine if your project is actually research or quality assurance/quality improvement.

Definition of Quality Assurance: When an organization is interested in assessing or improving some aspect of its performance (e.g. job satisfaction, safety compliance), they may conduct quality assurance or improvement studies. Similarly, schools may test their students within normal educational requirements (e.g. to assess knowledge retention). These activities are usually not considered research as defined by TCPS 2 and do not require REB review.

It can be difficult to assess if your project is research or quality assurance. To help you determine if your project is QA rather than research, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions has developed an on line tool called ARECCI. By answering a few simple questions you can perform a self-assessment of your project. If you are still uncertain if your project falls under the QA umbrella, contact the REB Coordinator. Here is the link to the tool:

Even if you determine that your project is QA and not research, it must be conducted in an ethical manner. For guidelines on how to conduct QA projects in an ethically sound manner, AIHS provides the following tool:

Informed Consent

The process of seeking consent for research participation is fundamental to the principle of Respect for Persons. Prospective participants, who have the capacity to consent on their own behalf, have the reasonable expectation that they will be treated as autonomous individuals, able to make decisions about the risks they consider acceptable and the information they choose to share with researchers. It is the responsibility of researchers to be aware of any additional consent guidance or regulations that apply to their research.

Course Based Research

  • Regarding Course Based Research, much of what happens in the classroom will remain unchanged. However, it is imperative to determine the difference between Research and Professional Skill Development, as research must have prior approval, while skill development does not.
  • Course-based Research varies in scope but includes activities such as students conducting interviews, administering standardized tests, and distributing questionnaires. It also includes conducting projects that pose research questions, gather data from human participants, and analyze that data for presentation.
  • The instructor, in the case of course-based research, holds primary responsibility for the ethics review application and for student adherence to ethical treatment of human participants; the student holds secondary responsibility.
  • Course-based activities that are considered Professional Skill Development are exempt from Ethical Review requirements.

Applications and Information

The REB meets face-to-face on a semi-annual basis, once in the Fall and once in the Spring.  Throughout the academic year, monthly meetings are conducted electronically. Additional face-to-face meetings will occur as needed.

It is recognized that during the summer months, (June – August), face to face meetings are very difficult to schedule. Protocols will be addressed when possible before and after the summer period. It is understood however, that some protocols may require REB review during the summer period. If that is the case, the review will occur and the meeting will be facilitated through an electronic format.

All REB applications must be received in full on or before the 15th of each month to be reviewed during the next electronic meeting.

If you are unsure of how to prepare an ethics protocol, our Canvas course can guide you through the process: How to Develop an Ethics Protocol

Research Operations Coordinator
Phone: 403-320-3202, ext. 5787 Fax: 403-394-7370