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Athabasca University

Human Ethics

While the majority of your time will be focused on your ethics review application, the research ethics process does not end there. This page provides an overview of the process from application to the end of your project.


All ethics applications must be submitted through the Research Portal. Learn about deadlines and how to apply. Please review the applicable instructions below before beginning the application process:

Use the subtabs in the Application for Ethics Review/Application for Ethical Review tab of your application to confirm what information is required before creating your draft.

Create your draft

You should create a draft of your long responses in Notepad or TextEdit, then copy and paste into the Research Portal. This will help ensure the portal won’t time out in the middle of typing a response. Don’t paste from a word processing program, as your text won’t appear the way you expect.

Use plain language and provide definitions for specialized terms or acronyms. Include citations and references in your responses. Further details are available in the Guidelines for Applicants (pdf).

Complete your application

Use the instructions below to complete your application (note: these are the same pages as in the Applying section, above). Remember to save often – at a minimum, after completing each tab.

Make sure you include all the necessary information, including related appendices, or your application may be returned. If you are a graduate student, you will find several templates in the Attachments tab – please be sure to use them.

If you have difficulties with your application, please contact the Research Ethics Officer.

Board review

The Research Ethics Board (REB) meets once a month, though graduate student applications and minimal-risk studies may be delegated for expedited review. You should receive a response no later than 1 week after the meeting.

Please note there is no REB meeting in August.

Check the status of your application

You can check the status of your ethics application at any time through the Research Portal. Select “Applications: Under Review” from the Principal Investigator section. For a more detailed view, check the Logs tab of your application.


REB results are posted to the Research Portal; you will also be notified via email. You will receive one of three responses:

  • Approved – you can begin your research once you receive the Ethics Certification memo.
  • Revisions required – you must submit revisions before you can begin your research.
  • Unable to approve – you cannot begin your research. You must submit a complete, revised proposal to be considered at the next REB meeting.

Revisions and resubmission

If you are asked to revise your application, you do so through the Research Portal.

  1. Find your application under “Applications: Post-Review” in the Principal Investigator section.
  2. Make your revisions in all capital letters (there is no formatting in the portal).
  3. Upload any new or revised documents in the attachments tab.
  4. Save.
  5. Click the “Resubmit” button.


If you disagree with a REB decision, an appeal process is available.

After approval

You will receive an Ethics Certification memo by email. Once you have it, you can begin your research study. However, there are a few things to keep in mind while your study is running.

If something changes

Sometimes you’ll need to change a research protocol during your study. If this happens, you must submit a Modification Event form through the Research Portal.

If you encounter any unanticipated or adverse effects during your research project, you must report them to the REB through the Unanticipated Event form in the Research Portal.

Learn how to submit event forms.

If your project goes longer than a year

Ethical approval is granted for a period of 1 year. However, ethical approval must be maintained for the life of a research project involving human participants.

If your project is a multi-year project, or you are unable to complete your project within a year, you must submit a request to renew ethical approval to the REB. You can complete the Renewal/Interim Report event form through the Research Portal.

You will receive an email reminder as this milestone approaches. You will also see a reminder in the Research Portal.

How to submit event forms

If you need to submit a Modification Event form, or an Unanticipated Event form, you will first need to find your project in the Research Portal under Applications: Post-Review in the Principal Investigator section. Click the “Events” button to access the list of event forms.

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You can then select the form you need and complete it. If you need to compose a detailed response, you may want to create it in Notepad or TextEdit first, then paste it into the portal.

If you need to submit a Renewal/Interim Report form, you can find your project in either Applications: Post-Review or Reminders.

When your project is complete

Once your research project is finished, you must complete and submit a Project Completion (Final) Report event form through the Research Portal. This will close your ethics file.

You will receive an email as this milestone approaches. You will also see a reminder in the Research Portal. Failure to submit a final report may affect a future application for ethical approval.

How to submit your final report

If you have received a reminder about your final report, you can follow the Reminders link in the Principal Investigator section of the Research Portal. If you haven’t received a reminder yet, you can still find your project in Applications: Post-Review. Click the “Events” button to access the list of event forms, then select Project Completion (Final) Report Form from the list. 

Portal Image

Once your final report has been submitted, you will receive an email confirming the closure of your ethics file.

Updated March 14 2018 by Research

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