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SFU Office of Research Ethics Update

March 02, 2018

The SFU Office of Research Ethics (ORE) and the SFU Research Ethics Board (REB) recently released a memo for the SFU research community, about the ethics approval process: 

"The Office of Research Ethics (ORE) is here to help you with your ethics application at every stage, from pre-submission to post-approval. We would like to take this opportunity to emphasize a few key points that will help you efficiently obtain research ethics approval for your project:

1. We will only review complete applications. A complete application includes: a study details document and, if applicable, consent forms, recruitment materials, tools and measures (i.e., surveys, interview guides, etc.) and any other documentation relevant to your study. If you are not sure whether your application is complete, contact our office to confirm.

2. Study detail documents must contain specific ethical considerations from the perspective of the participant. Some key elements that are often missed include: detailed inclusion and exclusion criteria, recruitment and consent procedures, consideration of confidentiality and privacy issues, a data management plan, and an assessment of risks and benefits to participants. The Study Detail Guidelines document on our website contains a full list of all elements that must be considered.

3. Grant applications are not appropriate substitutes for study details documents. We will accept a grant application in addition to a study details document, but grant applications do not contain the ethical considerations necessary to complete a fulsome review.

4. Applications approved prior to 2014 may need to be updated with new documents or a new application. Due to extensive changes in both policy and review processes, our office and the Research Ethics Board may require new or updated versions of old applications if they are not compliant with current requirements. We will review these applications proportionately and will provide support in updating these applications.

5. Let us know as soon as possible if you are working collaboratively with other institutions. SFU accepts previously approved minimal risk studies from other TCPS2 compliant institutions. If you are initiating a new study with collaborators from other institutions or health authorities in BC, your study is eligible for review under the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative. Contact our office for more information on harmonization.

There are many helpful resources on our website and we strongly recommend that all researchers use those materials, especially the Study Detail Guidelines and Consent Form Template, when developing new study documents.

We want to support you in doing great research. ORE staff are always available for phone or in person meetings to discuss the initial or ongoing development of your ethics application. Our job is to provide expert advice on research ethics and we are always happy to discuss issues as they come up throughout the process. We strive for a transparent and efficient ethics review process and maintain an approachable space for the SFU community to ask questions."

For contact information, please see the the original update document attached below:


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