Review Process

Full Board Review

This is the default that will apply unless there is sufficient justification for other levels of review.

Submissions are reviewed in the order of their arrival at the Research Ethics office. Please contact the HiREB regarding meeting dates and deadlines for submission.

Expedited Review

Studies that may qualify for expedited review:

  • Are considered either minimal risk and non-invasive (e.g. retrospective chart reviews, non-intrusive questionnaires or surveys, non-invasive assessments, use of existing samples), or
  • Involve only current standards of care, or
  • Have had prior approval from the HiREB Research Ethics Board. Studies that have been approved by the HiREB or another REB are not considered for expedited review unless the relevant documentation (REB review letter, reply to any REB concerns and approval letter) is provided.

The local principal investigator must include the justification for requesting expedited review. The decision of whether a study qualifies for expedited review rests with the REB Chair.


For projects assigned to the REB, the principal investigator may be invited to attend the meeting of the Research Ethics Board and given an appointment time. The REB meets on the third Tuesday of the month. Generally, the PI is not required to attend the meeting and arrangements will be made for attendance only if this is required by the Board.

While all REB members read all of the applications and consent forms, one or two members are assigned to each application to review it in greater detail, including a review of the full protocol, the IB, and any other documentation that is provided These reviewers will provide evaluation reports based on their reviews and these reports will be presented to the full board for further discussion and evaluation at the monthly meeting.

The REB may vote to approve the application as submitted, to approve provisionally, with conditions, to defer a decision with recommendations for (usually major) changes, or to disapprove the application. Research may begin as soon as the principal investigator receives a letter of authorization/final approval from the REB Chair indicating approval to proceed. Approval may be withdrawn (very rarely) by the Medical Advisory Committee or the Board of Trustees to whom all approvals are sent for review. A letter indicating the REB decision will be sent to the principal investigator by the REB Chair, usually within one month of the submission deadline.

If the REB approves the project, it may begin as soon as the investigator has received written approval. If the approval is conditional on modifications being made, research may not begin until these modifications have been verified and approved by the REB Chair and final approval has been provided.

The process of review by the Executive Committee is similar, but does not require approval by the Full Board.

All forms and correspondence submitted to the REB for review and/or approval from the REB must be signed by the Local Principal Investigator.