Governance of Research Ethics Board (REB)

Procedure Number: 
Policy Number: 
Vice-President, Academic
Vice President, Academic
November 17, 2009
Last Amended: 
September 10, 2014
September 10, 2016
Procedure Statement: 

NOTE:  This Procedure is consistent with the Tri-Council Policy Statement TCPS 2: Chapter 6 Governance of Research Ethics Review – Establishment of Research Ethics Boards.

The Research Ethics Board (REB) reviews ethical acceptability of research proposals as per the JIBC Research on Human Participants Policy. This process is consistent with the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2).

1.    Authority and Powers

The Research Ethics Board (REB) of the Justice Institute of BC (JIBC) is an independent body that reviews the ethical acceptability of research involving human participants, conducted within the jurisdiction of JIBC or under its auspices. This includes research by JIBC faculty, staff or students regardless of where the research is conducted, in accordance with the Research on Human Participants Ethics Policy.

JIBC provides the REB with sufficient and appropriate financial and administrative independence to fulfill its duties, supported by the Dean, Office of Applied Research & Graduate Studies (OARGS).

JIBC grants the REB the mandate to review the ethical acceptability of research on behalf of the institution, including approving, rejecting, proposing modifications to, or terminating any proposed or ongoing research involving human participants that is conducted under the auspices or within the jurisdiction of the institution, using the considerations set forth in this Procedure.

2.   REB Composition

The JIBC Ethics Review Board (REB) will consist of at least 11 members – appointed by the Dean, OARGS, consisting of:

a.  faculty and/or staff members appointed from each of the JIBC Schools (total of 6), nominated by the relevant Dean;

b.  1 member appointed from JIBC Centre for Graduate Studies & Academic Planning, nominated by the JIBC Vice President Academic;

c.  2 members-at-large appointed from JIBC faculty and/or staff by the Dean, OARGS;

d.  2 community members, at least one of whom has no current affiliation with the institution, selected jointly by the Dean, OARGS and the JIBC Executive Committee

In addition, to ensure that the REB members possess relevant critical expertise, the membership will consist of:

a.  at least two members with expertise in relevant research disciplines, fields, and methodologies covered by the JIBC Ethics Review Board;

b.  at least one member knowledgeable in ethics;

c.  at least one member knowledgeable in the relevant law (but that member may not be the institution's legal counsel or risk manager);

d.  at least one member knowledgeable with research involving Aboriginal participants.

Further, in order to ensure breadth of representation:

a.  The REB must not consist entirely of members of one profession or discipline;

b.  Every non-discriminatory effort will be made to ensure that membership includes a balance of members whose primary concerns are from natural science and social sciences/humanities perspectives. The Dean, OARGS may appoint up to 2 additional members-at-large or community members to ensure that the REB possess relevant critical expertise and breadth of representation as defined above.

The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be elected annually from the membership of the REB, by the members of the REB. Should the Chair or Vice-Chair leave the REB, their position will be filled for the remaining original term by-election.

3.   Ad hoc Advisors

With approval from the Dean, OARGS, the REB may appoint ad hoc advisors in the event that it lacks the specific expertise or knowledge to review specific research proposals.

4.   Non-voting

a.  Non-voting Member:
Associate Dean, Centre for Applied Research

b.  Non-voting Resources:
      •   Dean, OARGS
      •   Administrative Research Assistant, OARGS

5.   Terms of Appointment of REB Members

REB members will be appointed by the Dean, OARGS such that their terms allow for continuity of the ethics review process. Terms will be of three years duration and renewable at the discretion of Dean, OARGS. Vacant positions may be filled by appointments of one or two year terms, at the discretion of the Dean OARGS, to ensure rotation of terms and continuity of the JIBC ethics review process.

The Chair will guide the group’s efforts to ensure they are effective in meeting the Board’s objectives. The REB Chair is responsible for ensuring that the operations of the REB comply with institutional Policies and Procedures concerning the ethics review process.

6.   REB Meetings and Attendance

A meeting quorum will consist of six members including the Chair (or Vice-Chair). For reviewing low risk ethical review applications a quorum will consist of three members including the Chair (or Vice-Chair) with results reported in regular meeting minutes.

Consensus will be sought; when required, decision-making will be by majority of appointed members. REB will have regular meetings, at least four times each year, to discharge its responsibilities. The rationale for meetings includes:

a.  to review proposed research that is not assigned to delegated or expedited review;

b.  to meet informally prior to a formal proposal review;

c.  to meet with external specialists and advisors.

Each member will have the opportunity to contribute to discussions at the meetings.  While consensus will be sought, when required, decision-making will be by majority of appointed members. Minutes will be recorded and distributed by the Administrative Research Assistant, OARGS.

7.   Initial Research Ethics Review

Researchers must submit their research project for REB review, using the appropriate process and form prior to the start of the formal data collection. 

The REB will follow a research ethics review process proportionate to the level of risk in research under review. Two levels of ethics review may apply:

a.  Full REB review - Ethics review by the full REB is the default requirement for JIBC research. Researchers must use the “Request for an Ethical Review” form.

b.  Delegated and/or Expedited REB review of minimal-risk research - The REB can delegate ethics review of research project the REB deems to be minimal risk to an individual or individuals. Delegates may be selected from among the REB membership or at the faculty or department level. Researchers seeking expedited REB review of minimal-risk research must use the “Request for Minimal Risk Ethical Review” form.

Examples of categories delegated and/or expedited ethics review include:

a.  categories of research that are confidently expected to involve minimal risk;

b.  minimal-risk changes to approved research;

c.  annual renewals of approved research; or

d.  situations in which there is evidence that requirements laid down by the REB have already been met e.g. reviews from a Research Ethics Board from project related universities, colleges, hospitals, including those institutions in multi-jurisdictional sites.

8.   REB Decision-Making

The REB will function impartially, provide a fair hearing to those involved and provide reasoned and appropriately documented opinions and decisions. Approvals and refusals will be communicated in writing to researchers. A “Certificate of Approval” will be issued for approvals, signed by the Chair, REB, with electronic copies available.  Refusals will also be communicated in writing by the Chair, REB,

Members of the REB may not participate in decisions regarding research with which they are involved (for example, as Principle Investigator or in a consultative capacity) or in which they have provided support or expertise (for example, in preparing funding and/or ethic approval applications). Regardless of the presence of a quorum, decisions requiring full ethics review will be adopted only when the members in attendance at that meeting have the specific expertise, relevant competence, and knowledge necessary to provide an adequate research ethics review of the project under consideration.

9.    Scholarly Review

All JIBC research should receive scholarly review before or as part of the ethics review process. Where it is determined that the research presents more than minimal risk to participants, the REB will adopt some or all of the following mechanisms in its review:

a.  When provided with suitable evidence, accept relevant disciplinary peer review, as for example, by a funding sponsor; partner research college, institute, hospital;

b.  Establish a permanent peer review committee reporting directly to the REB; and/or

c.  Where no other venue for scholarly review is available, and if the REB has the necessary scholarly expertise, assume complete responsibility for the scholarly review, or if the REB does not have the necessary scholarly expertise, establish an ad hoc independent peer review committee.

10.  Continuing Ethics Review

The REB will make the final determination as to the nature and frequency of the ongoing ethics reviews in accordance with a proportionate approach to ethics review.

11.   Departures from Approved Research

The REB will make decisions on the ethical acceptability of researchers’ departures from the originally approved research, in accordance with a proportionate approach to research ethics review.

12.   Record Keeping of REB Documents

The REB will prepare and maintain comprehensive files, including minutes reflecting research ethics review decisions and attendance of all REB members at meetings, as well as all documentation related to the studies submitted to the REB for review. 

Records will be maintained under the official record management system of JIBC.

13.   Reconsideration and Formal Appeals of REB Decisions

Researchers have the right to request, and the REB has an obligation to provide, reconsideration of decisions affecting a research project and, in cases where an informal review of the request is negative, the researcher has the right to appeal the decision. Reconsideration and Appeals follow a two-tiered approach. The first step – reconsideration – must be exhausted before a researcher may proceed to the second step – the Formal Appeal Process.

a.  Reconsideration of REB Decisions:
REB will follow the principles of natural and procedural justice in their decision-making. Such principles include the provision of reasonable opportunity to be heard; an explanation of the reasons for opinions or decisions; and the opportunity for rebuttal, fair and impartial judgment, and reasoned grounds for the decision. Researchers and the REB should make every effort to resolve their disagreement through deliberation, consultation or advice. If a disagreement cannot be resolved by the researcher and the REB, recourse to the Appeals Process may be considered. The REB has an obligation to provide an opportunity for the researchers to re-submit their request for approval based on the feedback received on a negative decision.  The REB will only reconsider those cases where the researchers can clearly demonstrate that they have adapted or adjusted their proposal based on the reasons given for the negative decision.

b.  Appeal of REB Decisions:
In cases when researchers and the REB cannot reach agreement through discussion and reconsideration, JIBC will permit review of an REB decision by an established appeal process.  This process is outlined in the JIBC Research Ethics Appeal Process procedure.

14.   Institutional Emergency Research Ethics Preparedness Plan

In concert with their researchers, JIBC and the REB have emergency research ethics preparedness plans. Research ethics review during emergencies will follow modified procedures and practices. The following items outline the process to help prioritize REB reviews during emergencies:

a.  Only “essential” research will be considered during emergencies;

b.  The initial review process of new research projects arising from the emergency (e.g., research involving interviews with first responders and victims to understand human response during a disaster, such as a tornado or earthquake);

c.  Continuing ethics review of research undertaken prior to the occurrence of the emergency; and

d.  The review process for departures from approved research, because new information has become available during an emergency.

15.   Application of Research Ethics Review Policy and Procedures in Publicly Declared Emergencies

The application of research ethics policy and procedures for emergencies is limited to officially declared public emergencies. These procedures will cease immediately after such declaration is withdrawn.

16.   Respecting Core Principles: Limiting Derogations

REB will give special care to requests for derogations, i.e. lessening or impairment of law, from the principles outlined in this Policy involving or during publicly declared emergencies.

Last updated June 30, 2015