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Research Ethics Board Exemptions

Some research may be exempt from Research Ethics Board (REB) or departmental Research Ethics Committee (REC) review. Determination of exemptions is based on institutional or regulatory criteria, including information provided in Chapter 2 of the TCPS 2 (2022), Articles 2.1-2.6. Your project or proposed activity does not require ethics review (REB or REC) if it clearly meets the below criteria for exemption: 

Note: Various university policies, agreements and privacy legislation further regulate the use of data collected and maintained by Laurier. Researchers seeking access to such data should ensure compliance with these items. Please see Privacy and Access at Laurier for more information. 


Research that relies exclusively on publicly available information is considered exempt. This includes information that is accessible to the public and appropriately protected by law (e.g., public archives or publicly available statistics such as Statistics Canada files), or information which is publicly accessible and the individuals to whom the information refers to have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Please see TCPS2 Article 2.2 for guidance;  


This includes research involving the observation of people in public places (e.g., stadium, planetarium, beach, museums, parks, or library) where there is no intervention staged by the research or direct interaction with the individuals or groups, those under observation have no reasonable expectation of privacy, and any dissemination of research results does not allow identification of specific individuals. Please see TCPS2 Article 2.3 for guidance; 


This is research that relies exclusively on secondary use of anonymous information, or anonymous human biological materials. This is only the case if the process of data linkage or recording or dissemination of results does not generate identifiable information. However, the secondary use of ‘anonymized’ or ‘coded’ information does require REB review.  It is important to note that ‘anonymous’ information is not the same as ‘coded’ or ‘anonymized’ information. Please see the distinctions below.  

  • ‘Anonymous’ information: the information never had identifiers associated with it (as would be the case with anonymous surveys).  
  • ‘Coded’ information: direct identifiers are removed from the information and replaced with a code. Depending on access to the code, it may be possible to re-identify an individual. 
  •  ‘Anonymized’ information: the information is irrevocably stripped of identifiers and a code is not kept for future re-linkage. Please see TCPS2 Article 2.4 and Chapter 5, Section A, Key Concepts for guidance; 

Note:  Please see Identifiability of Information and Secondary Use of Data for further details. 


These activities are undertaken to assess the performance of a program, service or an organization, and are typically used exclusively for management, assessment of improvement within an organization. These activities do not typically fall within the scope of REB review, however, the determination of what constitutes QA/QI versus ‘research with human participants’ can be a difficult one to make. Although QA/QI activities may use methods similar to those employed in research studies (surveys, interviews, focus groups, data analysis etc.), there are some characteristics of each that researchers can use to determine which category their projects may fall into. They are outlined below.  

  • Research: The primary purpose of a ‘research’ project is to extend a body of knowledge through a disciplined inquiry and/or systemic investigation. The results of research projects are intended to be generalizable and benefit a broader community (which could include the scholars, practitioners, or organizations beyond those of the researchers and participants). Participation in research projects must be voluntary, and results are typically presented in an academic publication.  
  • QA/QI: The primary purpose of a QA/QI activity is to evaluate the functioning of an organization, service, or program, with the goal of improving services provided by the organization, by monitoring the quality of the output produced. The activity or data collection may already be happening at the organization, would likely happen with or without the involvement of the Laurier researcher, and participation in the project may be mandatory for those within the organization. The results of these projects are normally site-specific and benefit the organization itself. Results typically stay internal to the organization but may be presented in a public forum as long as the primary purpose remains QA/QI and not academic ‘research’. Results are not ‘generalizable’ beyond the specific population that the sample is being drawn from.  

QA/QI activities which do contain additional research components may require ethics review, and if a researcher knows at the beginning that a project will serve two purposes (that of QA/QI and research), the project must undergo ethics review before it begins. Please see TCPS 2 Article 2.5 for guidance. 

If these QA/QI activities are meant to improve an internal process or program at Laurier, these activities are required to undergo administrative review prior to implementation (Please contact for more information);


These activities can be defined as the processes through which an artist makes or interprets works of art. Creative practice can also include studies on how works of art are generated. These activities do not typically require REB review. However, activities which use creative practice to seek responses from participants that will be analyzed to answer a research question are subject to REB review. Please see TCPS 2 Article 2.6 for guidance. 

If your study clearly falls into one of the above exemption categories, you will not be required to submit the project for review by the REB or departmental REC.  In some cases Administrative Research (AdminResearch@wlu.camay still apply.  

If your research does not clearly meet the above criteria of being exempt from review, or you are unsure, then please submit the Ethics Review Exemption Query Form (below) to  The REB will use the information that you submit to determine whether your project requires review. It is important that researchers are familiar with what does or does not constitute ‘research which human participants’, and requires REB review, according to the TCPS2. Incorrectly determining that a project does not require research ethics review, whether intentional or not, could be considered a breach of Laurier’s Policy for the Responsible Conduct of Research 

Note: The REB is the final authority on which projects require ethics review. The Board will not issue retroactive approvals. 


If you are unsure of whether your research is considered exempt, please use the REB Exemption Form for more assistance.