Types of Research Ethics Review

Exempted Review

Projects which involve the collection data from public available databases or public documents are exempted from review.

Expedited Review

Projects posing minimal risk to research subjects go through expedited reviews. The RASD and the REO Director decide consensually on whether a research project would qualify for expedited review. Projects qualifying for expedited review are those that involve:

  • Research involving minor changes in previously approved research projects;
  • Research involving analysis of information without interaction with subjects;
  • Research where informed consent is needed from the subjects and the informed consent process will be correctly and appropriately applied, and that the researchers will be taken appropriate measures to protect the privacy of the subjects;
  • Research which is a local portion of a multi-center or multi-national research project has already received a full review from another research ethics committee or institutional review board.

Full Review

Research projects which pose a more than “minimal risk” to research participants or subjects are subjected to a full review by the Research Ethics Review Pannel (RERP). Risk is minimal when “the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical examinations or tests" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1994, p.6, as cited by Hadjistavropoulos, & Smythe, 2001)

Research involving vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, youth-at-risk, special children, or individuals who are in inequitable relationships;

  • Research involving sensitive topics, such as substance use, sexual behaviors, or criminal or politically sensitive behaviors;
  • Research with groups which necessitate permission to acquire access to them, such as research with indigenous communities;
  • Research which will require deception or which will be conducted without the participants’ full and informed consent at the time data are to be collected;
  • Research that will require access to personal and confidential information of identifiable individuals, such as genetic or biological information, medical records, or psychological assessment records;
  • Research that will cause physical and/or psychological harm or pain, or will cause humiliation, stress or anxiety;
  • Research that will involve intrusive interventions, such as hypnotherapy, drug administration, or vigorous exercise, which may cause participants to reveal information about themselves they otherwise would not normally want revealed in their everyday lives.
  • Research involving respondents through the internet
  • Research involving deceased persons, body parts or other human elements


  • Economic and Social Research Council (2010) Framework for Research Ethics Swindon: ESRC at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/Images/Framework%20for%20Research%20Ethics%202010_tcm6-35811.pdf

  • Hadjistavropoulos, T., & Smythe, W. E. (2001). Elements of risk in qualitative research. Ethics & Behavior, 11(2), 163-174.

  • Stanley, L. & Wise, S. (2010). The ESRC’s 2010 framework for research ethics: Fit for research purpose? Sociological Research Online, 15(4). Available at http://www.socresonline.org.uk/15/4/12.html

  • Truman, C. A. (2011). Ethics and the ruling relations of research production. Sociological Research Online, 8(1).

  • Walsh, M. K., McNeil, J. J., & Breen, K. J. (2005). Improving the governance of health research. Med J Aust, 182(9), 468-71.

  • Witherspoon, S. ( 2004). Foreword. In A. Tinker & V. Coomber, University Research Ethics Committees. METHODS, 21, 23-52.

  • World Health Organization. (2000). Operational guidelines for ethics committees that review biomedical research. Geneva, World Health Organization (document No. TDR/PRD/ETHICS/2000.1).