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Any research involving human participants, including secondary data, and human biological materials that is conducted by any Faculty, employee, student of Simon Fraser University, or Adjunct Faculty member of any Department, School, or non-Departmentalized Faculty of Simon Fraser University must be reviewed and approved by SFU Research Ethics Board (REB) before the research can begin.

Undergraduate and graduate courses including Directed Studies that require or permit students to participate in research projects as part of their training or for the purpose of assessment, may be required to receive ethics approval before the course begins. Applications for course approvals are made by the Dean, Director/Chair or Instructor of the course. The course application can be selected once the Instructor has been registered and enters the application system.

No intervention or interaction with human participants in research, including recruitment and collection of data, may begin until the research protocol, consent documents and recruitment materials have been reviewed and approved.

If you are undertaking any of the following activities for research purposes, your study will require ethics review:

  • Interviews, surveys, or focus groups
  • Behavioural or psychological experiments
  • Naturalistic or participant observations
  • Analysis of human tissue samples such as blood, bone, or urine
  • Secondary use of pre-existing data sets such as medical records or research data
  • Testing medical devices, medical imaging, drugs, or diagnostic techniques

NOTE: ORE does not issue retroactive ethics approval. For this reason it is imperative that you determine whether your project requires ethics approval prior to starting your research. Ethics approval is required even if you have obtained ethics approval from another institution to conduct the research.


Exemption from REB Review

Some studies may be exempt from REB review. Please refer to this list for Articles of Exemption as outlined in the TCPS2 Policy document.

Please note that the SFU Library will require an exemption letter if the exemption is being used for graduation purposes. Some journals may also require evidence that the researcher has sought ethics review in order to publish.


Protocol Development

In some cases, a Principal Investigator requires a portion of his/her grant in order to undertake non-human research required to develop a detailed research protocol that can be submitted to Research Ethics for review. Early release of a portion of first year funding may be required to begin such protocol development.

Please fill out a Protocol Development Form and submit it to Research Services ( if you request early release of a portion of first year funding for protocol development.

Last updated: June 21, 2022


January 28, 2022 - Flowchart added

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