Research Ethics

Who needs to submit a GC-REB application?

The Grenfell Campus Research Ethics Board (GC-REB) assesses research with humans. If your research includes a health component or you are studying animals, it needs to be considered by the Provincial Health Research Ethics Board* (HREB) or by Memorial University's Institutional Animal Care Committee (IACC), respectively.

* If you are uncertain if your research would be classified as health research – please complete the online triage that is part of the researcher portal. If you do not complete the triage and the GC-REB believes your project may be classified as health research, you will be asked to complete this process. This will delay the review of your application.

If you are doing any research involving humans, you must submit an ethics application. Research involving humans includes online and in-person surveys, focus groups, interviews, and other methods of data collection.

You do not need to submit to ethics if you are using publicly available archival data, or if you are collecting information for program evaluation (e.g. course evaluations).*

* If the people who have provided the data you are using (e.g., online forum) have a reasonable expectation of privacy or in the case of program evaluations, you plan to publish the data, ethics approval should be obtained. If there is any doubt it is better to get the opinion of the GC-REB at EMAIL before you collect data.



Health Research Ethics Authority Act

Before submitting your application, please note that all health research involving humans must be reviewed by the Health Research Ethics Board (HREB):

Health Research Ethics Authority ​​​Act 

  •               (d) "health research involving human subjects" means activities whose primary goal is to generate knowledge in relation to human health, health care and health care systems, and involving human beings as research subjects, health care information respecting human beings and human biological material;
  •               (e) "human beings as research subjects" includes human remains, cadavers, tissues, biological fluids, embryos and foetuses, and records pertaining to them

Please visit for more information about submitting an application.


Indigenous Research

Ethical Research involving Indigenous Peoples

So… what is this resource?

This collection of documents and contact information act as a resource that can be used by members of the university community (researchers/students/professors/etc.) when conducting research involving Indigenous communities – either directly or indirectly. It is important to know exactly who is impacted by your research to know exactly how to proceed when applying for ethics approval from the relevant Research Ethics Board (REB). This is by no means an exhausting listing of documents relating to ethical approaches of research involving Indigenous peoples, but it can certainly act as a starting point for researchers who may be in the field for the first time.


But… why is this any different than doing research with any human population?

To quote Thomas King, an Indigenous writer who published the critically acclaimed novel "The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America" in 2012, "most of us think history is the past. It's not. History is the stories we tell about the past. That's all it is. Stories." The significance of this quote is embedded in the perspective of the stories that tell the tale of history. For example, King (2012) recounts the historic account of a massacre that Native Americans allegedly committed in Idaho in 1861; believed as true insofar as being immortalized by a plaque in the location. However, King (2012) cautions the reader to dig deeper into the "facts," and eventually reveals that if one examines the story from different perspectives, it is more likely that the massacre is fiction disguised as truth and simply accepted as such.


I use this small anecdote to introduce research ethics in an Indigenous context because as King (2012) argues, a researcher who is conducting a study involving human participants to better understand a phenomenon or concept is essentially collecting a variety of stories and subsequently making sense of these stories. Research ethics, in this regard, act as the regulating body of guidelines that researchers can use to gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives present in their research. While not fool proof, undergoing a rigorous ethics approval process can vet a research project for possible oversights that exist inherently in academia – a world founded on colonial principles that have historically perpetuated the marginalization and disenfranchisement of Indigenous peoples.


Ok… so I can't just submit my application to the Grenfell Campus Research Ethics Board (GC-REB) without doing extra work?

If your research involves Indigenous peoples either directly or indirectly, it is important that thorough reflection accords with chapter 9 in the TCPS 2. This resource can point researchers in the right direction when beginning to organize an application for ethics approval. It is also important for researchers to investigate relevant research ethic's boards outside of the GC-REB. For example, many Indigenous communities both in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada have specific guidelines for research conducted within their communities. A researcher has a duty to consult these guidelines for ethical research and may even be required to apply for ethics approval in the relevant community separate to an application for ethics approval from the GC-REB.


This resource has been produced in partnership with the Indigenous Resource Centre at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. A list of references can be found at the end for all the documents that are available in the following sections and any further questions should either be directed to the Indigenous Resource Centre, your supervisor (for students), or the GC-REB.

Indigenous Research Important Links (PDF)

Indigenous Research Contact Information (PDF)

Indigenous Research References (PDF)


Memorial Research Portal


Policies & Statements

Researchers moving through the ethics process may find the following links helpful:

Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) Tutorial

Health Research Ethics Authority Act