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Ethics FAQs

MREB ETHICS REVIEW PROCESS

MREB has transitioned from Word-based forms to MacREM. The McMaster Research Ethics Manager (MacREM) is the web-based system to submit, review and monitor research ethics applications. It is the online system for the McMaster Research Ethics Board (MREB).

The McMaster Research Ethics Board website does not have examples of applications, but it does have many samples and templates of supporting documents (e.g. Letter of Information) that you are encouraged to use and modify for your study.”

The ethics staff are available by email or telephone to answer questions. MREB staff are also available by appointment if you need one-one consultation. If you are a student, working with your supervisor on your application is strongly advisable before submitting. There are several recommended online tutorials that are very useful in learning about Canada’s ethics guidelines. Gaining familiarity with the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) can be very useful when you do your research because, ethics isn’t a form, it’s a process.

Yes. The Senior Research Ethics Advisor, and/or the Chair of MREB, would be happy to accept an invitation to make a presentation or speak to your class about research ethics. Please contact the Ethics Office at X 26117 to set up a time.

MREB has a Conditional Release of Funds form that you can submit to explain that you are not ready to begin data collection from human participants, but need your funds released for planning and administrative purposes (e.g., paying staff, developing the project).  The conditional release of funds is good for one year, with option to extend if necessary. The conditional release of funds is NOT an ethics clearance and an ethics application must be submitted and ethics clearance obtained prior to the recruitment of research participants (or receiving secondary use data from the data custodian – e.g., CLSA data).

To create a Conditional Release of Funds form, you would log into MacREM https://macrem.mcmaster.ca/ using your MacID and Create a New Project. For question 1.2 you would select Conditional Release of Funds Application and complete the short form. The form asks for basic administrative details about the project and for the reason the funds need to be released prior to MREB clearance.  Once submitted the form is checked at the administrative level by the Research Ethics Officer, who then issues the conditional release of funds approval.

Once you are ready to seek MREB clearance for the project, you can go back into your cleared Conditional Release of Funds application and change the answer to question 1.2 to Standard MREB Application.  This will open up the full application form for you to fill in and it will keep the same MREB number that is on file with ROADS with your funding.

If you need additional assistance with this process, please contact the MREB Secretariat.

The best process is for the principal investigator (PI) to first obtain ethics clearance at his or her home institution as the first step. If you are not the PI, then once the PI has clearance at his or her home institution you can submit the application form “Application for a Project with External REB Clearance” in MacREM. As part of completing this form you will be asked to include the PI’s cleared application package (i.e., application form and supporting documents) and the external REB’s clearance letter or clearance certificate. Most of these applications have a shorter review process as they are reviewed directly by the MREB Chair or Vice-Chair.

You will need to submit an Amendment Form, or in some cases a For Information Only Form, through the MacREM system. You can go to the original project application in MacREM and then use the action “create sub-form.”

Yes, University policy and the TCPS requires that funded or unfunded research carried out with human beings, their tissue or their records in Canada or elsewhere must have ethics clearance before your research can begin. Contact the Ethics Office for more information and help.

Yes. There is a separate MacREM application form for instructors who teach undergraduate and graduate courses where students engage in minimal risk research projects with human participants. When you create your application in MacREM, select “Course-Based Application” for Question 1.2.

Feel free to talk with the ethics staff about your course projects. Remember that because different instructors set different projects for their students, course-based clearance is granted to the instructor of each course.

It is extremely valuable to become familiar with the TCPS, Canada’s national research ethics policy, and the one that Canadian universities, colleges and hospitals have adopted as their guidelines for research with humans. Please contact the ethics office if you would like help interpreting these guidelines.

At the present time, the McMaster Research Ethics Board (non-medical board) does not require researchers to take the CORE online tutorial. Many course instructors, however, do make it mandatory for their students.

Yes, SRECs review minimal risk undergraduate research. Log into MacREM to submit your application. If your department, school or program does not have their own SREC, your study will be reviewed by the McMaster Research Ethics Board, or another SREC.

If you are applying to a one of the Tri-Council funding agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC), or to another funding agency you can submit your ethics application once the award has been granted.

If you plan to do naturalistic observation in a public place that does not allow for the identification of the participants, isn’t staged by the researcher and is non-intrusive, ethics review is not normally required. If you are interviewing friends and family as part of your research you need ethics clearance. Consulting with the Ethics Office is the best way to work out the particular details of your study.

It depends on the project. The instructor can submit a course application for similar minimal risk student projects that he/she has set as part of a course assignment to learn about research ethics etc. If you are proposing a separate project and one that poses greater than minimal risk then you and your fellow students need to submit the standard application form. Get in touch with the Ethics Office for advice.

Before you can do research in local district schools, you will need ethics clearance from the MREB first. Once obtained, you must apply to the school board’s Research Review Committee (RRC) where you plan to conduct your research. School boards will not permit access to their schools or students without these clearances. Because you need to go through an additional review process make sure you leave enough time to obtain both clearances. Contact the Ethics Office for advice.

All studies that received an ethics certificate need to complete an annual report. 4-6 weeks before the anniversary of your clearance we’ll send you a friendly email reminder along with a link to an easy to use electronically-based annual project status/study completion form that takes just a few minutes to complete. This makes it easy for you update us on your study’s status; if you are still collecting data, or if your study has been completed. Completing the annual report ensures compliance with university policies and funder’s requirements and if your research is funded, there won’t be any interruption in the flow of funds.

MREB – McMaster Research Ethics Board | TCPS2 – Tri-Council Policy Statement (2nd edition 2010) | SREC – Student Research Ethics Committee | PRE – Panel on Research Ethics | IRB – Institutional Review Board (United States) | LOI/CF – Letter of Information/Consent Form | HIREB – Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board.

  • You must submit an ethics application via MacREM. In this case you would submit the “Application for a Project with External REB Clearance” in MacREM. As part of completing this form you will be asked to include the cleared application package (i.e., application form and supporting documents) and your former REB’s clearance letter or clearance certificate. Most of these applications have a shorter review process as they are reviewed directly by the MREB Chair or Vice-Chair.
  • If your research is funded and you are moving funds to McMaster, contact the Research Office for Administrative Development and Support (ROADS) staff to tell them you are in the process of obtaining clearance at McMaster.
  • When you receive your McMaster ethics clearance certificate, send a copy ROADS. Contact the MREB with any remaining questions.
  • Contact the Ethics Office especially if you haven’t done human participant research before, to get some helpful advice
  • You must submit an ethics application via MacREM & obtain clearance BEFORE you collect any human participant data.
  • If your research is funded, contact Research Office for Administrative Development and Support (ROADS) staff and inform them that you are changing your research & will be requiring human ethics clearance. Once you receive McMaster human ethics clearance. Email the Assistant Director of McMaster Research Finance with your protocol number (e.g. 2012-000) after you have received clearance from MREB.
  • Contact the Ethics Office with any remaining questions.
  • Application for a Project with External REB Clearance” in MacREM. As part of completing this form you will be asked to include the cleared application package (i.e., application form and supporting documents) and the external REB’s clearance letter or clearance certificate. Most of these applications have a shorter review process as they are reviewed directly by the MREB Chair or Vice-Chair. The PI for the project needs to sign the application form in MacREM. They can contact the ethics office to obtain a temporary MacID in order to access MacREM.
  • If your research is funded, contact Research Office for Administrative Development and Support (ROADS) staff to inform them that you applied for and you are awaiting human ethics clearance at McMaster.
  • When you receive your clearance from MREB, send a copy to Research Office for Administrative Development and Support (ROADS) if there will be a transfer of funds from the PIs institution to McMaster to cover your part of research.
  • Contact the MREB with any remaining questions.