Navigating the Research Ethics Board Pt. 2

Haven’t read Pt. 1 yet? Click Here

On November 10th the REB reviewed my proposal and subsequently denied it, neurologist emailing me a list of 22 points that needed revision in my proposal before acceptance could be considered. After getting over my initial outrage, information pills Mackenzie and I went over the points and realized that there really wasn’t much to change, neurologist the REB just wanted certain points to be explicitly clear. At this point I am about to request more information on a few points, upon clarification I will hopefully proceed with tweaking my application so that I can actually embark on this project next semester. If you are considering a project that may require REB approval below is my list of recommendations to help you have the smoothest possible process:

  • Complete the REB Self Assessment Form
  • If you will need to do a full-blown REB proposal, go ahead and do CORE because you’ll have to do it anyway and it’s nice to get it out of the way early
  • At this point, since ACAD doesn’t have our own, take a look through Dalhousie University’s Researcher Checklist (linked above) as it is super helpful. Some of the things you will be asked to do seem mind-numbingly redundant, but it is important to be thorough and your future self with thank you, trust me.
  • When you write your submission be as thorough as possible in all areas, but especially around mitigating risks to participants, the REB will want to see this information all over the place in your submission (did I mention things getting redundant?)
  • If you need to create some sort of informed consent waiver or a waiver of any sort the readability should be between a Grade 8 and Grade 9 reading level. This one is particularly difficult given that you are used to writing at a University level. Since your participants may not have that reading level however, any forms and documents shared with participants need to be readable by a majority
  • Your informed consent document will also need to be abundantly clear on absolutely every point. You must leave nothing up for questioning, and yes it will be repetitive.
  • Be prepared to be disappointed. No seriously, prepare for your proposal to be rejected the first time. The REB exists to make sure your proposal is airtight and that any risks are mitigated, so the first time around you will probably be rejected and asked to submit more information. Speaking as someone who wasn’t really prepared for a refusal, it is a good thing to prepare for.
  • Don’t compromise your or the project’s integrity for the sake of getting approved. This sounds like a strange thing to advise people, but I mean it. The REB has asked that I include my personal phone number on certain documents and while I can understand why, this is not okay with me for a variety of reasons. Just like the REB has dealbreakers for approval, so should you. If the REB rejects your proposal and advises you to do things that you aren’t okay with doing, I would strongly recommend trying to find some middle ground and expressing to them what your dealbreakers are. As disappointing as it would be to not embark on a proposal, it is better in my estimation to not compromise yourself or your project because the REB wants you to do something that you are not comfortable with doing.

If you have any questions about this process or my proposal, let me know!