Before You Apply

Please review all of the following information before you apply. Click on a link below for specific information on if you should apply for ethical review, the application process, ethics fees, FAQ's and application tips .

Should I Apply for Ethical Review?

A study which is simply quality assurance and not research does not require ethical review. Intention to publish the findings is not the litmus test for determining whether something is research or quality assurance. 

The  current Tri Council Policy Statement defines research as “an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation” and, states that quality assurance studies, performance reviews, or testing within normal educational requirements do not normally require review, unless they include an element of research and the findings will be published or presented at a conference. The Tri Council Policy Statement, article 2.5, further defines quality assurance studies as studies related directly to assessing the performance of an organization or its employees or students, within the mandate of the organization or according to the terms and conditions of employment or training.

The Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care research institutes (VCHRI and PHCRI respectively) have developed a checklist to assist researchers determine whether their quality improvement (including quality assurance and program evaluation) projects should be reviewed by a research ethics board before initiating the project.

The "VCH/PHC QI & REB Review Checklist" tool can be downloaded here. We encourage you to read through the document, and to incorporate the completion of this checklist into their project preparation.

The following decision support tools found on the ARECCI (Alberta Research Ethics Community Consensus Initiative) may also benefit in planning your Quality Improvement and Evaluation projects.

If there is any doubt as to whether your research requires review, we recommend that you consult with the Board or alternatively submit an application. None of UBC’s affiliated REBs will review or acknowledge research that has already been conducted.

Application Process

The UBC PHC Research Ethics Board (UBC PHC REB) requires that all applications be submitted electronically through the Researcher Information Services system (RISe). This is a web based system used by all of the UBC Research Ethics Boards to process applications for ethical review of research involving human subjects. It is a secure online document management system. All submissions and department approvals of ethics applications to any of the UBC-affiliated REBs must use RISe. All amendments, renewals, and requests for acknowledgment to previously approved applications must also use RISe.

The Process of Obtaining Study Approval (pdf)

1. Register with RISe
If you are a first-time user, please register with RISe. All researchers and study personnel must have a Campus Wide Login (CWL) and Password and a 'Researcher Number'.

The instructions on the use and application of RISe are found on the RISe Welcome Page as well as embedded within the application itself. This is also where you can familiarize yourself with RISe through tutorials and the test site ("sandbox") where you can try out RISe without using any live data.

2. Complete the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) Online Tutorial
The TCPS2 tutorial 'CORE' (Course in Research Ethics) is available at the following links, English Version / French Version. This free interactive online tutorial can be completed in approximately two hours and is necessary for conducting research in Canada. It provides an essential orientation to the Tri Council Policy Statement. A certificate is available in English or French for printing upon completion.

All non-faculty personnel associated with a research project and who have contact with research subjects are required to complete the tutorial before an application is submitted to the REB. This includes (but is not limited to) undergraduate and graduate students, medical residents, research assistants, research coordinators, etc. Principal Investigators must also be familiar with the TCPS and are advised to also complete the tutorial, especially if supervising or teaching classes for graduate students or medical residents.

Any Research Ethics Board reserves the right to request that other individuals (e.g., medical students) also complete this tutorial before approving an ethics application

Ethical Review Fees

Increase to fees for ethical review of privately sponsored research studies
A fee for ethical review applies only to sponsored research studies (i.e., those funded by industry such as pharmaceutical, biological or medical device company) or funding for any other for profit organization.

The initial ethics review fee is waived for:

  • Studies that do not have funding 
  • Studies funded by a grant from a non-profit organization 
  • Studies that receive internal grants from UBC, PHC or their affiliated agencies or research institutes 
  • Studies funded by cooperative groups (i.e. COG) 
  • Studies funded by CIHR, SSHRC, NSERC and NIH (including NIH Institutes)

Sponsored Research Fees
A fee of $3,500 per application covers initial review of the PHC REB application. The Principal Investigator must ensure the sponsor is aware of this fee. An invoice will be issued once the study has been received by the PHC REB with instructions on payment (wire transfers are also acceptable for an additional fee). 

Payments are due within 30 days from invoice date. Cheques should be made payable to “Providence Health Care Research Institute Trust”.

Remit payments along with a copy of the issued invoice to:

Providence Research

Contact: Kinny Dunga


10th Floor Hornby site – 1081 Burrard St.
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

PHC Institutional Final Approval will not be released until the review fee has been received. No new PHC REB reviews will be undertaken until the account is brought into good standing.

For a current statement of your fee account or other specific queries relating to PHC REB fee payment, please contact Monika Grover at 604-682-2344 ext. 62843 or email

Renewal Fees

Effective April 1st, 2019, all new applications for ethical review to the Providence Health Care Research Ethics will also be charged an annual renewal fee of $750.00. All privately sponsored studies submitted prior to April 1st, 2019 will continue to be charged the older rate of $500.00 for annual renewals.

Criteria For Discontinuing the Renewal Fee

When submitting a renewal it is important to clearly explain the status of the study and the status of subjects locally, and if applicable, state what the study- specific long term follow up involves. 

The REB will discontinue the renewal fee for an ongoing study where it is either clear or requested in the renewal application that the following apply;

  • study is closed to accrual, and  
  • all research related interventions are complete for all subjects except for long term follow up (as defined below), or 
  • study is limited to the analysis of data.   

"Long term follow-up" activities may include; 

  • the collection of follow-up data to monitor for disease progression or recurrence, 
  • quality of life surveys, 
  • a blood draw for a small amount of blood (e.g., 30ml  or two tablespoons) once or twice a year. 
  • chest x-rays, abdominal ultrasounds, etc to be done, if that is the usual practice for that patient population.    

The REB will consider will consider discontinuing the fee due to other circumstances if a request with an explanation is included in the renewal application

FAQ's & Application Tips

1. How do I know if the Department Head has approved the application?
The REB does not track the Department Review. It is the Principal Investigator's responsibility to follow-up with their Department Head to ensure the study is reviewed and approved in time for the REB deadline. In time sensitive situations, it’s best to advise your department head that the study is waiting for sign off. You can track your submission in RISe by looking at the "Current State" of the application (located at the top left side of the study homepage. When you see the state change from "Department Review" to "REBA Screening" this indicates the REB has received the study.
2. When can I expect my application to be reviewed?

Studies requiring Full Board review:

If the application is submitted before the REB Full Board Meeting deadline then the application will be reviewed at the subsequent meeting date and correspondence from the meeting will be sent via RISe approximately 3-4 days post meeting.

Applications that are incomplete and/or require revision because necessary information has not been provided are handled by the online system in chronological order and therefore each incoming version is placed at the end of the chronological queue. Careful completion of the application is therefore highly recommended. 

Minimal Risk Expedited/Delegated applications:

Expedited/Delegated reviews can take approximately 2-3 weeks. They are reviewed on a regular basis and do not have deadlines for submission. Once the application is submitted and approved by the Department Head of the PI it will be reviewed by the Ethics office and Associate Chairs of the REB.

Applicants should thoroughly familiarize themselves with the Guidance Notes for the minimal risk criteria. Studies incorrectly categorized as minimal risk by the applicant will be forwarded to the full board for review, which substantially lengthens the turnaround time.

3. How do I get access to RISe?
To login and access RISe, please click here.
4. Do I have to submit separate applications for different hospital sites?

If you are a UBC or PHC researcher who wishes to conduct research at more than one UBC-affiliated site you may submit your ethical review to any UBC-affiliated REB. We recommended that you submit to the REB most closely associated with the Institution where you hold your primary appointment. The purpose of implementing this one REB of Record is to avoid the requirement for multiple formal ethical reviews of the same research study.

Under this new policy, the UBC REB that initially reviews a research study normally becomes the REB of Record for the study, but occasionally a project is referred to another of the UBC REB’s. Once established as the REB of Record, that REB will deal with all subsequent ethical supervision of that study. This means that the investigator is only required to submit all post approval activity submissions (amendments, annual renewals, etc.) to one REB, regardless of whether or not the research is being conducted at another institution under UBC REB’s’ jurisdiction

Each REB has signed an agreement allowing approvals by one UBC-affiliated REB to be recognized by the others. Research conducted by the same PI at multiple UBC sites needs ethical approval from one UBC sanctioned REB only. For the purpose of allocating resources, most sites will require individual institutional approval.

*NOTE: UBC and Fraser Health REB have now created an affiliation agreement for minimal risk studies - click here for further details.

Affiliated UBC REB’s:

Providence Health Care Research Ethics Board (PHC REB)
Clinical Research Ethics Board (CREB)
Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB)
Okanagan REB
BC Cancer REB
Children & Women’s Hospital REB

5. Whom should I put as the Principal Investigator?

If you are a UBC student, put your Faculty Advisor as the Principal Investigator. If you are a student from another University doing your research at UBC or one of the affiliated teaching hospitals, your research supervisor on site should be entered on the form as the Principal Investigator.

The Principal Investigator (PI) for a study is responsible for adhering to the TCPS and other relevant guidelines, and indicates this by clicking “OK” in the Submit Activity view on the application homepage. Based on security in the RISe system, only the PI listed in Question 1.1 on the application has access to this Submit Activity on the application homepage. The PI’s signature attests to the following:

By signing below, I certify that I have read this application together with its attachments and that all information provided herein is accurate and complete.

UBC Faculty: The Principal Investigator must have a Faculty Appointment (e.g. Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, or Emeritus Professor). This includes Clinical Faculty appointments in the Faculty of Medicine.

Hospital Employees: The UBC Research Ethics Boards also review research carried out at affiliated teaching hospitals by employees who do not have Faculty appointments and who are not UBC students. In this case, if the employee holds a supervisor status or higher they should be listed as the Principal Investigator and the employee’s Hospital Department Head should sign the application. If the Hospital employee does not have PI status but holds the appropriate appointment from the Hospital please contact the PHCRI Ethics Office for access.

Course Instructors: Course instructors who are applying for research ethics approval for course-based assignments in subjects they are teaching (e.g., research methods courses) can be listed as a PI on their application, even if they do not hold a regular faculty appointment. Please contact the PHCRI Ethics Office if you are submitting a class project and require the capacity to list yourself as a PI on the application.

6. Does my Quality Improvement project require ethical review?
No, provided that the project is simply quality assurance and not research. If you are uncertain whether your study requires ethical review, or can be designated as Quality Assurance, please complete the. More information is also available at Before You Apply.
7. How do I register my Clinical Trial? is one of the clinical trial registries of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world that is accepted by the International Medical Committee of Journal Editors. A list of additional acceptable registries is located in ICJME.

Clinical Trials must be registered if your study results are to be published and this must be done BEFORE the research starts. Protocol records for active trials should be reviewed and modified as needed every 6 months. Please click below for the steps to register your clinical trial and contacts for the relevant administrator for UBC.

Clinical Trial Registration

8. What does the REB require for a research protocol/plan?

A complete study protocol is required for all research projects (clinical and behavioural). The REB application will not be reviewed without an appropriate protocol attached. The research proposal submitted to granting agencies may be used to meet this requirement; in this case, ensure that the appropriate section of the grant application is referenced. For all other studies, including those that are submitted for expedited review, investigators must submit a protocol that includes at a minimum, the following:

  • A background literature review (with accompanying references) that includes an explanation of the need/justification for the study
  • The study purpose
  • Hypothesis
  • Objective
  • Specification of end points/outcomes (if applicable)
  • Research design including statistical analysis plan (if applicable) and,
  • Detailed research procedure

This document is a 'stand-alone' document that describes the study design from which related study documents are created. For example, the consent form describing the research should not contain interventions or procedures that are not described in the protocol/research proposal.

9. How will I find out if my study has been approved?

The Principal Investigator and the primary contact person listed in item 1.2 of the form will be sent an email notification. You can check the status of the study at any time by logging into the RISe system.

Application Tips

1. Peer Review

All studies which are not minimal risk should have some form of peer review attached to Box 9.8 of the RISe application form. This can be internal OR external, from an expert in the field who is at arms’ length from the study. Internal reviews could include colleagues in your Department who are not involved in your study in any way. 

For graduate studies, the REB accepts the committee review of the proposal as a form of peer review. Please click here for further information.

2. United States Regulations

Investigators that receive funding for studies conducted by a U.S. government department and/or its agencies (e.g. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)/National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense, U.S. Army) OR are conducting studies regulated by the Food and Drug Administration are subject to the pertinent U.S. federal regulations. These are part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) mandated by the United States government.

The U.S. regulations that pertain to clinical research are:

45 CFR Part 46 for all U.S. federal government funded research
21CFR Part 50 and 21CFR Part 54 for trials regulated by the FDA

3. Renewals

Please ensure that your renewal requests are submitted 2 weeks prior to your study expiry. RISe will send automatic reminders; however, it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to ensure his or her study does not lapse. Please also consider the following:

Studies that must comply with U.S. regulations must be submitted for full board review unless they meet the following criteria for delegated/expedited review:

  • The research is (i) permanently closed to the enrollment of new subjects; and (ii) all subjects have completed all research-related interventions; and (iii) the research remains active only for long-term follow up of subjects; OR

  • Where no subjects have been enrolled and no additional risks have been identified; OR

  • Where the remaining research activities are limited to only the analysis of already collected data.

Please keep this in mind when submitting your renewals for review; PAA’s that must go to the Full Board for approval must be submitted prior to the REB deadline.

Failure to Comply with Requirements for Annual Renewal

4. Proviso/Deferral Response
Please ensure all documents have the requested changes highlighted or tracked. Your response should also include a letter indicating the REB’s provisos and how they have been answered. This can be attached via the “Submit Changes” box when submitting the response.
5. RISe Application Form
Please ensure all boxes of the RISe application form are filled out appropriately. If there is a question that does not apply to your particular study, please fill out the box as “N/A” and clarify why that particular box does not apply.
6. Documents

All relevant study documents must be attached to page 9 of the RISe application form. Please ensure that the attached documents can be opened; if the document is password protected, please indicate the password on the RISe application form.

**PLEASE NOTE: Studies which do not have an appropriate protocol attached will be sent back to investigators.

Please click here for further information:

7. Version Dates
When uploading documents on RISe, you are prompted to enter the proper version number and date on the application form. Please ensure this date matches the date on your document; the Certificate of Approval pulls the information from page 9 of RISe. The REB is unable to issue corrected Certificates of Approval for documents with the wrong version date entered. If this occurs, you will be required to submit a PAA – Amendment to make this change.
8. Data Retention
As per UBC’s Policy #85, original data for any given study must be retained in the unit of origin for at least five years after the work is published or otherwise presented (if the form of the data permits this, and if assurances have not been given that data would be destroyed to assure anonymity). Please indicate this will be the case in Box 8.6 of the RISe application form; this must also be stated in Box 1.5 of the PAA – Completion of Clinical Study coversheet when doing a study closure.
9. Study Completion
Annual renewal is not required if the researcher will have no further contact with subjects for the purpose of data collection or research (e.g. for follow-up or verification). Renewal is not required to analyze data or write a paper. Before the Certificate’s Expiry date declare to the REB by completing a PAA “Completion of Study” that the remaining research no longer requires certification because all data collection procedures described in the previously approved project have been completed. Article 6.14 of the TCPS states that “At minimum, continuing ethics review shall consist of an annual status report on the research, followed by an end-of-study report”.