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The Research Ethics Board (REB) makes the final decision on exemption from research ethics review. Even if you believe your research to be exempt from research ethics review, the REB's strongly encourage you to contact the ethics office (ethics.office@usask.ca) with a short description of your project or, fill out an ethics application, before you begin your research, to confirm if it meets the criteria for exemption, as retroactive ethics review is not possible. If the research is deemed to be exempt, the REB will issue a letter of exemption for your records.


In order for the REB to determine whether your project is exempt, the following information is required - Please send to ethics.office@usask.ca:

  1. Describe the project, and its primary purpose.
  2. Include the project title and the name of a faculty member or supervisor that would serve as the Principal Investigator responsible for the conduct of the project, as well as any student researchers.
  3. Describe the criteria for including participants.
  4. Provide any participant materials (e.g., survey/interview questions, questionnaires) and describe how the data will be collected.
  5. Justify why you think the project should be exempt. Please see reference to the TCPS2 (2018) below:

Criteria for exemption as per TCPS 2 (2018) – Chapter 2


Research Exempt from Research Ethics Board (REB) Review:

  • Research does not require REB review when it relies exclusively on information that is:
    1. publicly available through a mechanism set out by legislation or regulation and that is protected by law; or
    2. in the public domain and the individuals to whom the information refers have no reasonable expectation of privacy
  • REB review is not required for research involving the observation of people in public places where:
  1. it does not involve any intervention staged by the researcher, or direct interaction with the individuals or groups;
  2. individuals or groups targeted for observation have no reasonable expectation of privacy; and
  3. any dissemination of research results does not allow identification of specific individuals.
  • REB review is not required for research that relies exclusively on secondary use of anonymous information, or anonymous human biological materials, so long as the process of data linkage or recording or dissemination of results does not generate identifiable information.


Activities Not Requiring Research Ethics Board Review:

  • Quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluation activities, performance reviews, or testing within normal educational requirements when used exclusively for assessment, management or improvement purposes, do not constitute research as defined by the Tri-Council Policy Statement and do not fall within the scope of REB review.
  • Creative practice activities, in and of themselves, do not require REB review. However, research that employs creative practice to obtain responses from participants that will be analyzed to answer a research question is subject to REB review.


Case Reports:

Typically, writing a report of a unique or interesting clinical case (N=1) does not constitute research as defined by the Tri-Council Policy Statement  and does not fall within the scope of REB review. The primary intent of a case study is the treatment and well-being of a particular individual, at the discretion of the treating physician, and is not the answer to a research question.

If you are planning to do a case study, the REB strongly encourages you to send an email to ethics.office@usask.ca with the following information:

  1. A short summary of what you plan to do. E.g., what the rare condition is etc.
  2. Confirmation that consent will be sought from the individual
  3. The name/department/contact information of the principal investigator
  4. The name(s) of any student researcher(s) involved


Questions? Contact the Research Ethics Office at 306-966-2975 or ethics.office@usask.ca.