Research Ethics Board Appeals

The Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) requires that appeals of REB decisions be heard by an appeal board that meets the requirements of the Policy. The TCPS allows appeals to be heard by an REB from another institution provided the other institution is itself fully compliant with the TCPS and provided a formal written agreement between the institutions is in place. Below is a Letter of Agreement between the University of Prince Edward Island and St Francis Xavier University, Mount Allison University, and Bishop’s University, whereby the REB of each institution will serve as an appeal board for the other.

Terms of Reference for REB Appeals
The TCPS2 requires that an institution’s REB be responsible for reviewing research involving human subjects and issuing an Ethics Certificate or equivalent letter which approves the work if the guidelines for such work described in the TCPS are met. As indicated in Article 6.20 of the TCPS, in the case of a negative decision of the REB, researchers have the right to request, and REB’s have an obligation to provide, reconsideration of the decision. Appeals of REB decisions will be considered after this process is complete. Appeals of REB decisions will only be considered on procedural grounds or when there is significant disagreement over an interpretation of the TCPS.

In the case of a negative decision by the REB at either University, its Chair will notify its own senior administrative officer (SAO) responsible for the REB. The appeal process will be initiated when the researchers whose work the decision affects sends a request for appeal in writing to their own SAO within 30 days of receiving the final decision from the REB.

The letter of appeal shall include a copy of the original submission to the REB from the researcher(s), copies of the relevant decisions from the REB (including a written record of the REB’s decision upon reconsideration of the original decision), the reasons for the appeal, and a statement of the desired outcome.

Upon receiving the appeal, the senior administrative officer responsible for the REB will forward the request to the SAO of the appeal board’s institution along with the documentation included in the appeal mentioned above, who will then pass the information to their own REB. The appeal will be heard and a decision made by the appeal board within three (3) weeks of receiving all the relevant information. This decision will only be released to the appeal board’s SAO, who will then make the decision known to her or his counterpart at the institution where the appeal originated.

Terms of the Appeals Agreement

  1. The Research Ethics Board at one institution will serve as the Appeal Board for the other institution should an appeal arise from a decision made by an REB.
  2. The responsibility and liability for research that is subject to an appeal anticipated by this agreement will remain with the home institution on the principal researcher.
  3. The TCPS2 entitled Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Human Subjects will guide REBs in their consideration of an appeal.
  4. This agreement shall remain in effect for three (3) years and shall be renewable at the end of that period. The agreement may, however, be terminated before three (3) years by mutual consent.
  5. This agreement does not preclude the parties from entering into similar arrangements with other institutions.
  6. This agreement will terminate should one of the parties be deemed not in compliance with the TCPS2 representatives.


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