About Research Ethics

In the Northwest Territories, research involving human subjects is required to have approval by an accredited Research Ethics Board or Institutional Review Board in order to have a research license issued. Aurora College staff and students are also required to undergo review by the Aurora College Research Ethics Committee (REC) before they can proceed with research. Aurora College observes the standards set out by the Panel on Research Ethics in 2nd Edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS), as a condition of any research involving human subjects. Principal investigators are responsible for ensuring that they have acquired all appropriate research ethics reviews and approvals.

The principal investigator (PI) is the person who is the primary applicant for ethics review and the person who is responsible for the research activities. A PI can be a student, a research team member, or the primary researcher, depending on their level of responsibility for the research activities under review. The PI is the primary contact for all research ethics communications and the person who bears responsibility for all compliance and non-compliance with TCPS.


Why do I need a research ethics review from the Aurora College REC?                                                                                                      

1. Because you’re a PI who is conducting research under the auspices of the College (ie. students, staff, PIs who are partnered with Aurora College PI)

Aurora College is eligible to hold research funds granted by the Tri-Council Funders: SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR, which grant federal research funds to institutions that meet their standards. One of the standards is that all research conducted at the institution be reviewed by a research ethics review body that applies the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS). In order to comply with the funder’s requirements, all Aurora College staff, students, and partnered PIs must undergo research ethics review before undertaking a study.

2. Because you’re a PI who needs a research license

The Scientists Act of Northwest Territories requires that all research conducted in the territory be licensed. The licensing process requires any license applicant proposing research involving human participants to submit a certificate or letter of ethics approval from a research ethics board (REB) or committee that complies with the TCPS standard. This ethics approval can come from an REB at any Canadian college or university as long as their REB applies TCPS as their standard. License applicants who do not have access to an REB through their own organizations can apply to the Aurora College REC.
**The Research Licensing Coordinator can advise on all research license requirements, including research ethics approval.

3. You are a PI accessing NWT health information from the Department of Health and Social Services

The Health Information Act (HIA) specifically designates the Aurora College REC to review research that proposes to access the health information of NWT residents (HIA, Sections 67-83). The HIA language accepts REB approvals from other institutions in *most* circumstances, but in some cases approval from the Aurora College REC is needed (see HIA, Section 78). PIs proposing to access NWT health information should contact the GNWT Department of Health and Social Services to determine HIA requirements.


How does a research ethics review work?

The Aurora College REC is a volunteer committee of college staff and community members who are specially trained in the requirements of TCPS and passionate about ensuring that the research conducted in the Northwest Territories adheres to the highest ethical standard.

The REC meets monthly to discuss and vote on the research ethics protocols submitted. Meetings each have a submission deadline for two weeks in advance to allow committee members sufficient time to review in advance of monthly meetings. Applicants can expect the REC to respond within two weeks of the meeting date. Depending on the REC’s requests, an applicant may be able to re-submit ASAP, or they may be directed to resubmit to the next monthly meeting. Communications continue until the protocol is compliant with TCPS – the REC will work with an applicant to develop a protocol that meets the needs of the research inquiry and complies with the ethical standard.

The REC strongly recommends that applicants submit 8-12 weeks in advance of their anticipated start date, as the review process requires several layers of review, communication, and scheduling.


The ethics review process at Aurora College


Sample timeline


Example Date

Submission deadline

October 31, 2017
(2 weeks in advance of review meeting)

Committee distribution deadline

November 7, 2017
(1 week in advance of review meeting)

Review meeting

November 14, 2017

Response review deadline

November 21, 2017

Applicant response deadline

November 28, 2017


The REC will request either a resubmission via email at the applicant’s earliest convenience or to the next scheduled meeting. Upon resubmission, the timeline with start again at the “Committee distribution deadline” step.


For more information, please contact:

Sunila Kalkar
Manager, Research Ethics & Regional Programs
Aurora College
50 Conibear Cres
Fort Smith, NT