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Research Ethics at RDC

Research Ethics Board Operations During COVID-19

Researchers starting new research projects, including Course Based Student Research, in the 2020/2021 academic year will be required to submit a COVID-19 Research Plan.  Details of a plan should appear in the Project Application form as well as in the COVID-19 New Research Plan form.

Please consult Considerations for Amendments to Research Impacted by COVID-19 for guidance on how to design the proposed research project to address the impact of COVID-19.  The Research Ethics Board (ethics [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca) and the Research Common (researchcommon [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca) can also be consulted. 

If the application does not reflect thorough consideration of the impact that COVID-19 will have on the proposed project, it will be returned for revision.

Completed Project Application forms and the COVID-19 New Research Plan form are to be submitted to ethics [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca.  Allow 2-3 weeks for review of your application. 

If you have any questions, or need assistance with the form or designing a COVID-19 Research Plan, please contact the REB at ethics [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca. This email account will be monitored over the summer, however, same-day reply may not be possible. 


Research Requiring Research Ethics Board Approval

  • RDC (faculty, staff, student) researchers who plan to conduct research with human participants internal or external to the College
  • Researchers external to RDC who plan to recruit human participants at RDC
  • Research that involves the review of records not normally available to the public
  • Research that involves observational methods (virtual or otherwise) 
  • Course-based student projects, when information is collected from non-course members and information will be analyzed, summarized, and disseminated
  • Research projects previously approved by another institution that will involve recruiting participants from the RDC community 

The Research Ethics Board only considers research involving human participants. If you are considering animal research you should ethics [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca (contact us) to discuss the options. 


Activities Excluded from REB Review Process

  • Program evaluation, quality assurance studies and performance reviews
  • Testing within normal educational requirements when used exclusively for assessment, management or improvement purposes
  • Collecting information from authorized personnel to release information or data in the ordinary course of their employment about organizations, policies, procedures, professional practices or statistical reports
  • Information legally accessible to the public with no reasonable expectation of privacy
  • Observation of people in public places or online when there is no interaction or intervention involved by the researcher, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, AND dissemination of research results do not allow identification of individuals
  • Secondary use of anonymous information when research data does not lead to identifiable information if linked with other data
  • Interpretation of a work or works of art by an artist, and the study of how a work of art is generated
  • Research about a living individual involved in the public arena based exclusively on publicly available information

Please ethics [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca (consult with the REB) if you have any questions about whether or not your planned activity requires REB approval.

Research Ethics Flowchart

What is “minimal risk” research?
The Tri-Council Policy Statement defines minimal risk as “If potential participants can reasonably be expected to regard the probability and magnitude of possible harms implied by participation in the research to be no greater than those encountered by the subject in those aspects of his or her everyday life that relate to the research, then the research can be regarded as within the range of minimal risk.”

Generally, minimal risk research does not :

  • Involve vulnerable participants or groups of people without sufficient and respectful protocols for securing consent
  • Involve sensitive or incriminating topics or questions
  • Manipulate the behaviour of participants beyond the range of normal activity
  • Involve physically invasive contact with the participants
  • Involve undue or excessive rewards for participation

Quality Improvement  / Program Evaluation versus Research 

  RESEARCH PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
Purpose of activity Contribute to growing body of generalizable knowledge; answering  specific research question or testing hypothesis Inform decisions, identify improvements, provide information about success of program according to predefined goals and objectives Improve internal processes, practices, costs, productivity
Who will benefit? Might or might not benefit current participants;  intended to have future benefits for research population and for others who may wish to apply research findings; results generalized to future individuals Decision makers and current and future program participants; results cannot usually be generalized outside of existing program  Decision makers and current and future program participants; results cannot usually be generalized outside of existing practice
Risk to participants? May be some risk (e.g. physical, emotional, privacy, risks of harm); additional burdens on participants beyond what would be expected through typical role expectations No risks beyond usual intervention, though privacy may be a concern No risks beyond usual intervention, though privacy may be a concern
Vary protocol during study? Rigid protocol, design remains unchanged throughout research Rigid protocol but existence of confounding variables may cause variation in design; adaptive, iterative design Design is flexible, may vary as feedback is provided (plan-do-study-act design); adaptive, iterative design
Dissemination of results? Findings applied widely to increase body of scientific knowledge by publishing or presenting for others with the discipline Findings shared with program and organization; published with organizational approval; may by publicly posted (e.g. website) to ensure transparency; (intent is to suggest potentially effective models, strategies, assessment tools or provide benchmarks rather than to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge) Findings shared within the organization, to decision-makers; published with organizational approval; dissemination may occur in quality improvement publications (intent is to suggest potentially effective models, strategies, assessment tools or provide benchmarks rather than to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge)

Contact Us

RDC Main Campus 

Mon-Fri 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Main Phone: 403.342.3400
Toll-free: 1.888.732.4630 (in Canada only)
Email: inquire [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca


RDC Main Campus Location
100 College Boulevard | Box 5005
Red Deer, Alberta | T4N 5H5