VIU Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

Does Your Project Require Ethical Review?

Approval of the VIU Research Ethics Board (REB) is required prior to engaging in Research and Scholarly Activity associated with the University and involving human participants or human biological materials.  

Scholarly Activity “Includes activity associated with the University that consists of contributions of professional expertise to the creation, dissemination, or exchange of knowledge or creative activity within one’s teaching, discipline, or the academy whereby the methods and approaches are professionally rigorous and appropriate to the field, and where the results are publicly available or displayed, and therefore subject to peer review”  (VIU Policy 31.10: Integrity and Conduct in Research And Scholarly Activity).   

Human participants are those from whom information and/or materials are collected for the purpose of research and scholarly activity. This definition includes biological materials derived from both living and deceased individuals, including human embryos, fetuses, fetal tissue, stem cells, and human reproductive materials. 

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2022) defines research as “an undertaking intended to extend knowledge through a disciplined inquiry and/or systematic investigation ... It includes course-based research activities, the primary purpose of which is pedagogical, because of the possible risks to those recruited to participate in such activities, and the fact that, from their perspective, such activities may appear indistinguishable from those that meet this Policy's definition of research" (Article 2.1). 

Accordingly, activities involving human participants or biological materials require REB approval unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the proposed activity:

  • is not Scholarly Activity, as defined by VIU Policy 31.10, and
  • is not research, as defined by the TCPS, or
  • is one of the activities exempt from REB review described in TCPS (2022) Articles 2.2-2.6

Except for projects intended solely for pedagogical purposes, very few scholarly projects involving human participants are exempt from REB review.

If your project involves human participants and you are uncertain whether your project requires REB review, please contact the REB at

Please be aware that researchers involving human participants are responsible for complying with all TCPS guidance relevant to their research even if their research is exempt from REB review (Tri-Council Panel on Research Ethics).