Office of Research Ethics

Applying for REB Clearance during the Pandemic and Recovery

On 25 August 2020, Brock University released updated guidance regarding Brock Research Activities During Stages of Pandemic and Recovery. This document and the accompanying guidance information extend from the June 15 Expansion of Access to Research Facilities plan to provide guidance for a broad range of research activities on- and off-campus at each of Brock’s Stages for Pandemic Response and Recovery.

Table 1 in the Brock Research Activities During Stages of Pandemic and Recovery document provides an overview of the Brock activities that are expected to be authorized at each stage of the pandemic and recovery.

On 1 September 2020, Brock moved to Stage 3 of Research Recovery. Online or telephone data collection or research involving existing data sets that can be accessed off-campus requires ethics clearance only. All other research requires authorization as detailed below. Only research that falls under Brock Stage 1, 2, or 3 can be authorized at this point.

Researchers are normally expected to complete the authorization process through their Associate Dean Research (see Steps 1–6 in the first accordion, below) before applying to the REB (Step 7).

Subject to time constraints, the REB may be able to provide previews of research that cannot be authorized until Brock Stage 4 or 5. However, in all cases, researchers must contact the REB after receiving authorization (Step 7 n the first accordion, below) before ethics clearance can be granted.

If you applied to the REB prior to September 11, 2020 and received clearance pending COVID-19 restrictions such that you were unable to start your research until Brock moved to Stage 3, you must complete steps 1 – 7 to activate your clearance.

Click onto the “Steps Needed to Start Research Under Brock Stage 3” accordion below.

Researchers seeking access to research facilities and sites on- or off-campus must apply through their Associate Dean Research as described below:

1.  Researchers must read and understand the guidance documents from Brock University Health, Safety, and Wellness:

2.  Researchers must complete COVID-19 safety training on Sakai (for employees or students as relevant), as well as any applicable required department-specific training.

3.  Faculty researchers must submit the following access request documents to their Associate Dean Research to request authorization for research activities for themselves and any supervisees:

4.  Student researchers will be directed to confirm that they are willing to undertake research in pandemic conditions.

5.  If the Associate Dean determines that the proposed research activity is consistent with the pandemic conditions and endorses the request, it will be forwarded to the Academic Safety Committee and Health, Safety, and Wellness for detailed review of the identified risk-mitigation plans.

6.  Faculty researchers will be notified by Health, Safety, and Wellness when research activity has been authorized according to an accepted risk-mitigation plan.

7. Once this process is complete, faculty researchers must submit, by email to the Office of Research Ethics:

  1. their research ethics application and/or modification request.Any changes proposed as a result of COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies must be clearly indicated in the application/request along with details on how such changes may potentially
  • Increase risks to participants
  • Change the research “experience” for participants
  • Affect confidentiality, anonymity, data retention, and/or
  • Alter standard of care (e.g., number of researchers present)
  1. the approved access request documents (3a, b, c); and
  2. notification of authorization

8.  Researchers will be scheduled for access to on-campus spaces (if relevant) once they have confirmed with the Associate Dean Research that authorization and regulatory clearance are in place.

All planning and research activity under the terms of this plan must be conducted in light of the prospect that provincial orders and public health guidelines may again call for greater restrictions in the future, with appropriate preparations for winding down operations should that be necessary.

Authorization for access to any research facility or site may be reversed based on University, government, or public health direction. Attend to University communications to know when Brock moves between the identified Stages for Pandemic Response and Recovery. If at any point, the University moves toward a more restrictive stage for which Table 1 no longer includes an activity that has been authorized at a later stage, then the activity must stop until further authorization is secured.  Any risks to participants that may arise from stopping a study must be communicated to the REB prior to halting or closing a study.

More information about human participant research during the pandemic can be found on the Brock University Corona Virus Information page under the Research tab in Frequently Asked Questions or contact reb@brocku.ca

On Friday March 13, Brock University announced the suspension of in-person course delivery for the balance of the Winter 2020 academic semester, as well as the cancellation of inessential university travel and events at least until June 1, 2020. These decisions were made in response to the public health situation created by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

This letter signals the activation of the provisions of the guidelines on the functioning of the REBs and Research Ethics Office during unforeseen circumstances, as drafted and approved by the Brock University Research Ethics Boards.

The guidelines in question anticipate conditions of pandemic. They contemplate mild, moderate, and severe circumstances, and relate these categories both to ongoing projects having REB approval, and to new projects for review. The current recommendation is a hybrid that reflects the character of the current institutional environment and wider health concerns. Here is the letter:

Vice-President Research Statement on the Functioning of REBs and Research Ethics Office During Unforeseen Circumstances, March 14, 2020

On Friday March 13, Brock University announced the suspension of in-person course delivery for the balance of the Winter 2020 academic semester, as well as the cancellation of inessential university travel and events at least until June 1, 2020. These decisions were made in response to the public health situation created by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

This letter signals the activation of the provisions of the guidelines on the functioning of the REBs and Research Ethics Office during unforeseen circumstances, as drafted and approved by the Brock University Research Ethics Boards.

The guidelines in question anticipate conditions of pandemic. They contemplate mild, moderate, and severe circumstances, and relate these categories both to ongoing projects having REB approval, and to new projects for review. The current recommendation is a hybrid that reflects the character of the current institutional environment and wider health concerns.

For ongoing projects, the recommendation is drawn from the Severe category. Under the guidelines, this entails that:

  • Unless otherwise directed by the VPR, research activities may continue with caution under the following circumstances:

o the emergency or pandemic does not impose any additional threat to participant safety or comfort (e.g., exposure to communicable disease, dangers accessing the research location, etc.);

o the required support services necessary for participant safety are available to respond (e.g., campus security, lab support staff, etc.);

o where ceasing activity may pose a risk to participant safety or otherwise negatively affect the risk-benefit ratio.

  • Review will occur in priority at the discretion of the REO and will be restricted to the permitted research listed above.

Implications of these guidelines include that researchers are responsible for implementing reasonable steps for protecting research staff and research participants. The importance of basic protective measures including handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, respiratory hygiene, practicing social distancing, and staying home when unwell cannot be overstated. Delays or modifications may be needed if the research cannot be conducted while maintaining safe personal distance from others.

For new projects, the recommendation is drawn from the Moderate option, meaning that:

  • Pandemic-related studies are top priority, using procedures for time-sensitive review;
  • Other studies will be processed and reviewed as resources and circumstances allow.

This is an evaluation that I take to afford the REBs the latitude to prioritize and process reviews according to their assessment of evolving circumstances and available resources.

With thanks to all for due care and attention to these guidelines, and best wishes for the safe and responsible conduct of research.

Tim Kenyon Vice-President, Research

Brock University is committed to the responsible and ethical conduct of research.

The Office of Research Ethics (ORE) is responsible for the ethical oversight of research involving human participants. The Office provides centralized administrative and educational functions related to research ethics review. All human participant research conducted under the auspices and/or jurisdiction of Brock must receive ethics clearance from one of Brock University’s Research Ethics Boards (REB) prior to the start of the project.

The REB/ORE continues to monitor the situation and has implemented the provisions of the guidelines on the functioning of the REBs and Research Ethics Office during unforeseen circumstances, as drafted and approved by the Brock University Research Ethics Boards will be in operation. At present, the REB/ORE is functioning at full capacity and does not anticipate any significant delays in processing new (delegated review) applications or renewals, although face-to-face meetings of the REBs have been cancelled. For files requiring full-board review, procedures will be determined on a case-to-case basis in consultation with researchers. We will advise researchers of any change to the usual processing time frame promptly, as necessary.

Important notice for faculty, students and staff conducting human participant research

The Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research (SRCR), on behalf of the federal research agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC), has launched the TCPS 2 (2018). This is the 3rd revision of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2nd edition. TCPS 2 (2018) replaces TCPS 2 (2014) as the official human research ethics policy of the Agencies.

A summary of changes is provided at: http://www.pre.ethics.gc.ca/eng/policy-politique_tcps2-eptc2_changes.html.For more information on the TCPS 2 (2018), visit the new Panel on Research Ethics (PRE) website or contact the Office of Research Ethics (reb@brocku.ca)

About Brock’s Research Ethics Boards (REBs)

Brock’s Research Ethics Boards (REBs) are empowered to ensure that all research involving humans conducted under the auspices or within the jurisdiction of Brock University is ethical, and is conducted in accordance with this policy. As such, a REB may accept, reject, or propose modifications to any proposed or ongoing research that is subject to REB review, pursuant to Brock standards. A REB also has the authority to suspend any ongoing research under its purview that is deemed to pose an unacceptable risk of harm to participants or in which the principal researcher has not complied with Brock University policies and procedures related to the ethical conduct of research involving humans. A decision of a REB to disallow research on ethical grounds, unless reversed on reconsideration by that REB, may only be reversed through the REB appeal process. Decisions shall be final and binding in all respects for any appeal of an REB decision.

The Brock University Office of Research Ethics (ORE) provides centralized administration associated with the REBs and the research ethics operation at Brock, and develops and delivers educational programs and materials to Brock students, staff, and faculty involved in human research.

Brock University has two Research Ethics Boards:

The Health Science Research Ethics Board (HREB) is responsible for ethics review and policy development related to research from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences including the following departments:

  • Health Sciences
  • Kinesiology
  • Nursing
  • Recreation & Leisure
  • Sport Management

The Social Science Research Ethics Board (SREB) is responsible for ethics review and policy development related to research involving human participants from all other Faculties:

  • Goodman School of Business
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Mathematics & Science
  • Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts

Below is a list of the major forms and templates that may need to be completed before proceeding with research involving humans. For further information or if you have questions, contact reb@brocku.ca or call 905-688-5550, x3035.

Bioscience Research Ethics Board

BREB Meeting Schedule for Winter 2019

  • January 11 in MC D350-L
  • February 14 in MC D350-L
  • March 14 in MC D350-L
  • April 10 in MC D350-L
AgendasMinutesDecision Reports
July 2018July 2018July 2018
August 2018August 9, 2018August 2018
August 22, 2018
September 2018September 2018September 2018
October 2018 (cancelled)October 2018October 2018
November 2018November 2018November 2018
December 2018December 2018December 2018
January 2019January 2019January 2019
February 2019February 2019February 2019
March 2019March 2019March 2019
April 2019April 2019April 2019
May 2019May 2019May 2019
June 2019June 2019June 2019

Social Science Research Ethics Board

SREB Meeting Schedule for WINTER 2019

  • January 14 in MC D350-L
  • February 11 in MC D350-L
  • March 11 in MC D350-L
  • April 8 in MC D350-L

*Applications for Full Board Review should be submitted 10 working days prior to a scheduled meeting

AgendasMinutesDecision Reports
July 2018July 2018July 2018
August 2018 (cancelled)August 2018August 2018
September 2018September 2018September 2018
October 2018 (cancelled)October 2018October 2018
November 2018November 2018November 2018
December 2018December 2018December 2018
January 2019January 2019January 2019
February 2019February 2019February 2019
March 2019March 2019March 2019
April 2019April 2019April 2019
May 2019May 2019May 2019
June 2019June 2019June 2019

Contact us

Office of Research Ethics

Lori Walker
Manager, Office of Research Ethics
lori.walker@brocku.ca

Health Science Research  (HREB)

Carly MaGee
Research Ethics Officer, Office of Research Ethics
cmagee@brocku.ca

Social Science Research  (SREB)

Alyssa Bax
Research Ethics Officer, Office of Research Ethics
abax@brocku.ca