Demystifying the Research Ethics Review Process: Tips, Practice, and a Look Behind the Scenes

Dr. Michelle McCarron, Dr. Gordon McKay, Dr. Rashmi (Gogo) Pandya, Ara Steininger

Wednesday, November 18 10:00 - 11:00

Moderator: Dr. Elan Paluck

Workshop Description: 

Knowing what the Research Ethics Board (REB) is looking for can be a daunting task for researchers preparing an application for review. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to conduct a mock research ethics review of their own, guided by experienced Research Ethics Office personnel and past and current REB Chairs. Workshop participants will get an inside perspective about what reviewers are looking for when they receive a research ethics application, while getting hands-on experience with the process of reviewing project proposal themselves.



This workshop is recommended for researchers interested in learning more about what REB members are looking for when reviewing research ethics applications, as well as anyone—including community members—who may be interested in joining a Research Ethics Board.



Participants will be asked to sign up for either the biomedical or behavioural stream. The biomedical stream is best suited for those who are interested in medical research and clinical trials, whereas the behavioural stream is designed for those interested in study designs involving surveys, interviews, focus groups, and/or community-based research methodologies.


Participants will be provided with material to review before the workshop (e.g., mock project information, TCPS 2 guidelines). It is important that participants come prepared in order to get the most out of this learning experience.


Workshop Objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants should:

  • Understand the process of conducting a research ethics review, including how the Tri-Council Policy Statement 2 (2018) is used when evaluating applications

  • Know what common pitfalls and errors to avoid when preparing an application

  • Be able to identify essential ethical principles to which research proposals must adhere

Michelle McCarron is a Research Scientist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and is currently on a 0.5 FTE secondment to the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) at the University of Regina (U of R). She is also an adjunct member with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research at the U of R and Sessional Instructor with the Department of Psychology. She is also a member of both the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) Affiliated Researcher Alliance and the CIPSRT Academic, Research, and Clinical (ARC) Network. Michelle holds a Ph.D. in Experimental and Applied Psychology from the U of R. For 5 years (2012-2017) she was the Chair of the Research Ethics Board (REB) for the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region and now serves as the Vice Chair of the SHA REB. Her primary areas of research interest are ethics and Public Safety Personnel mental health.


Gordon McKay received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry (undergraduate honors program and plant biochemistry respectively) from the University of Saskatchewan. He was appointed as a research associate and adjunct professor of pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan and a principal investigator in the Drug Metabolism, Drug Disposition Research Group headed by Dr. Kamal K. Midha at this same institution. The research group focused on investigations towards the more efficacious use of antipsychotic drugs, for 11 years, including collaborative research with the pharmaceutical industry for 30 years. He was awarded fellowship in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1994 and was one of the founding members and past President of the Canadian Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is a scientific organizer for numerous scientific meetings including the Bioanalytical Validation meetings, the Tandem Mass Spectrometry Workshops held annually for the last 29 years and BioInternational. He has served on the editorial board for the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been a member of the Pharmaceutical Sciences review committee for Medical Research Council (MRC) and has served on numerous University Boards and Committees. He has published more than 165 original scientific publications and authored more than 200 scientific presentations. He was Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and also served as Acting Vice Dean of Research in the College of Medicine for 2 years.  Currently, he is Professor Emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan and is serving as Chair of the University of Saskatchewan Biomedical Research Ethics Board, a board he has been affiliated with for 25 years.


Rashmi (Gogo) Pandya joined the Saskatchewan Health Authority Research Ethics Board as Chair in late 2017. As a child, Dr. Pandya emigrated to Saskatchewan from Kenya. After completing her Undergraduate degree at the University of Regina, she lived and worked in South Korea for 3 years before returning to Canada for Graduate School at McMaster University, where she completed her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Pandya taught Biomedical Ethics at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario and the Departments of Philosophy and Biology at American University in Cairo, Egypt, until returning to Saskatchewan in 2017. Dr. Pandya’s academic area of speciality is Ethics with a special interest in Biomedical Ethics, particularly Health Research Ethics.

Ara Steininger began her undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of Regina in 1995. After serving in a variety of positions within the university, Ara moved to the Research Office in 2012, facilitating grant applications for Science and Engineering. She is now the Compliance Officer with the Research Ethics Office and oversees research involving animals and human participants. Ara reviews approximately 250 REB applications per year, across all disciplines.