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Research Ethics Board


Planning for REB approval

The Research Ethics Board (REB) review and approval process can be quite complex and it takes time for a study to move through the process. Investigators and study teams should plan to submit a complete application for REB review well in advance of when the research needs to start. The REB recommends that research teams use the following timelines:

  • Full Board Studies – Submit at least 6 months prior in advance of anticipated start date
  • Delegated Studies – Submit at least 3 months in advance of anticipated start date
  • Retrospective Studies – Submit at least 1 month in advance of anticipated start date
  • Amendments – Submit at least 6 weeks in advance of anticipated stars

Submissions to the REB are processed and reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Failure to plan for the REB review process may delay your timeline for the initiation of the research. No research activities involving participants or identifiable data, including recruitment, may begin until final REB approval is granted.

Most studies are reviewed outside of the convened REB meeting (i.e., delegated review) and can be submitted at any time. Studies that are reviewed at scheduled REB meeting involve greater than minimal risks to participants and need to be submitted well in advance of a scheduled REB meeting to make that agenda.

If your study requires full board review, please take note of the meeting schedu​le and be advised that a complete submission would need to be received at least three weeks prior to the scheduled meeting date in order to make the meeting agenda.

The level of review (full board vs. delegated review) is determined by the REB based on your protocol.

If you are new to the REB review process or if you have any questions as you develop your submission materials, please contact the REO for assistance.

REB review timelines

The current REB review timelines are posted below as a general guide only. Submissions that are incomplete or do not adhere to REB submission guidelines may require additional time. Please submit early whenever practicable.

The exact timing of review depends several factors, including:

  • quality of the submissions submitted to the REO;
  • complexity of the project;
  • volume of submissions received by the REO; and/or
  • whether or not there are conflicting demands.

The REB review timeline is calculated from the day the REB accepts a complete submission (eREB state: "Ready for Triage") to the day the REB review letter is sent (eREB state: "Clarification Required (In screening)"). The time is not calculated from the day the Principal Investigator submits the application in the eREB.

Investigators frequently request that the REB expedite a review. However, in general, studies are reviewed in the order in which they are received (first come, first serve). The current volume of submissions precludes pulling items out of the queue unless it is a true emergency that will adversely affect study participants (i.e., safety). Reviewing studies out of order means that other investigators' submissions will not receive timely review.

Please note: REB review time is not the same as REB approval time. REB approval depends on several factors that are not entirely within control the REB (i.e., Principal Investigator response time, regulatory requirements, contracts, other hospital services, and so on).

Timelines by application type

New Study Submissions (REB Main Applications)

Studies that require full board review are placed on the next available agenda. The REB receives approximately five to 10 new studies each month that require full board review. The REB has two full board meetings per month; the interval between submission and review depends on the timing of the submission relative to the next available scheduled meeting. The REB review letters are sent to investigators within five to 10 business days after the REB meeting.

Studies eligible for delegated review make up approximately 75 per cent of the REB's new study volume. Delegated studies are reviewed by the chair, one of the vice-chairs or by another designated member as well as one of the REB coordinators. The REB's target is to review and send letters to investigators within 20 to 25 business days after submission of a complete application.

Secondary Use applications (aka 'Retrospective studies') 

These studies are typically reviewed in five to 10 business days of submission of a complete application.

Please note: The REB retains the right to close any files relating to an ethics application that has been pending for three (3) months or more. Should the researcher wish to pursue with his or her research at SickKids, he or she will have to resubmit a new application for ethics approval.


Amendments make up the largest proportion of all submissions received by the REO. The large number is due to studies that are amended multiple times in a single year. Amendments are generally reviewed within 15 to 20 business days of receipt of a complete submission. Amendments that require full board review may take a little longer since they need to be scheduled to the next available REB meeting.

​Continuing Review (Renewals)

The REO receives a high volume of renewal applications. As a result, review of renewal applications are prioritized based on the study's expiry date and the date the complete renewal application was received. Renewal applications that are received on time are typically reviewed 10 to 20 business days prior to the study expiry date. Renewals that require full board review are will be reviewed at the full board meeting prior to the study expiry.

The REO makes every effort to re-approve studies before their expiry date provided the renewal application is submitted to the REB on time. Complete renewal applications should be submitted to the REB a minimum of 10 business days prior to study expiry date. Renewals that require full board review should be submitted 10 business days prior to the scheduled REB panel meeting prior to the study expiry date in order to have your renewal added to the meeting agenda. We encourage study teams to submit early in order to ensure their study is re-approved.

Staff and Principal Investigator changes

Staff changes that are limited to additions and/or removals of study team members are typically reviewed within five (5) business days. Principal Investigator changes are reviewed in five to 10 business days.

​Response to REB reviews

Responses to the REB's requests for modifications are typically reviewed within seven to 15 business days. However, the turnaround time for responses varies significantly depending on:

  • inclusion of an itemized response to the REB concerns;
  • clarity, accuracy and completeness of the response (frequently responses indicate that changes have been made that are not reflected in actual changes to the protocol, consent form or eREB application);
  • number and complexity of the requested modifications to the study; and/or
  • total volume of REB applications at the time of the submissio​n.