Multi-jurisdictional research and research ethics review

In January 2023, a new version of the TCPS2 was released resulting in changes to Chapter 8: Multi-Jurisdictional research for researchers in collaborative partnerships. REBs affiliated with an institution eligible to receive and administer Tri-Agency funds are encouraged to adopt a model of single ethics review for multi-jurisdictional research that is deemed to be minimal risk. 

The Research Ethics Boards at the University of Waterloo have adopted the recommendation. Waterloo's multi-jurisdictional single review model for minimal risk research began on March 18, 2024. Although the single REB review model is recommended, it is not required. Other institutional REBs may choose to not participate in the single REB review model. 

Regardless of where the research is conducted, and which REB reviewed the research, researchers must remember the responsibility for the ethical conduct of the study remains with the researchers and their institutions (i.e., reviewer REB's institution and non-reviewing REB's institution). 

Is my research a multi-jurisdictional project? 

Multi-jurisdictional projects must meet one or more of the following criteria: 

  • The research team includes investigators (i.e., faculty, staff, students) affiliated with a non-University of Waterloo institution. 
  • Members of the research team hold multiple institutional affiliations.
  • The research project involves combining data from several projects independently conducted by investigators affiliated with different institutions into one overall project. 
  • The research involves collecting data or recruiting participants at different institutions using the institution's resources (e.g., email lists, space). 
  • The research requires collaborating with a community, non-Waterloo institution, or organization (e.g., local schools, hospital, public health, Indigenous community). 

Is my research eligible for a single REB review? 

The following criteria must be met for a REB to conduct a single review for multi-jurisdictional research:

What do I need to do if I am the lead Principal Investigator (PI)? 

  • Contact Research Ethics to discuss your study and things to consider for a single REB review according to Chapter 8, TCPS2. Research Ethics will confirm the risk level with the other REB(s) and send you further instructions, if needed.
  • Complete the appropriate ethics application in the online system. ​​​​​
    • Name all non-Waterloo collaborators in the external investigator section.
    • Name all the locations and institutions in the study sites section and include REB contact information, if known. 
  • Single REB review is recommended, not required. The other REB(s) may decline participating in the single REB model. 

What do I need to do if I am NOT the lead Principal Investigator (PI)? 

  • Contact Research Ethics and provide the following information:  
    • Name of lead PI and their institution
    • Name of reviewing REB and contact information
    • Title of study and REB # from the reviewing REB
    • Funder
    • Your role in the study
  • Research Ethics will confirm the risk level with the reviewing REB and send you instructions for what you need to do to allow Waterloo to document and accept the reviewing REB's review. 
  • Single REB review for multi-jurisdictional minimal risk research is only possible if the reviewing REB is affiliated with an institution eligible to administer Tri-agency funds. 

Frequently asked questions

Question: How do I determine if I am the lead PI on the study?

Response: The lead PI is often named in the grant as the lead Principal Investigator for the research team. Typically, the lead PI's institution will receive funding for the project. If you are not sure if you are the lead PI, please contact Research Ethics.

Question: I am working with investigators in a country outside of Canada who have received ethics clearance from their institutions. Does this qualify for a single REB review? 

Response: The reviewing REB must be affiliated with an institution eligible to receive and administer Tri-Agency funds. If the University of Waterloo is the reviewing REB, a single REB review may be possible. Contact Research Ethics to discuss next steps. 

Question: I am working with a researcher at another institution on a multi-jurisdictional project. We will receive a sub-grant for students to address particular objectives in the research and for thesis work. Can a multi-jurisdictional review be facilitated?

Response: Discuss with the lead investigator what their ethics application will cover, then contact Research Ethics to discuss. 

March 15, 2024