Research Office FAQs
You have questions? We have answers.
Funding Applications & Budgets
Undergraduate research funding opportunities include summer studentships, travel grants, and stipends.
Graduate research awards are available for domestic and international students.
Postdoctoral research funding opportunities can be found on the Postdoc funding calendar.
A Data Management Plan (DMP) is a document that describes how you will organize, store, and share your research data throughout the lifetime of a project. It is a living document that can be modified to accommodate changes over the course of your study and does not generally contain or expose data. Some funders require a DMP as part of your grant application.
QI/PE or Research
It can be difficult to determine whether a project is quality improvement (QI), quality assurance (QA), program evaluation (PE), or research. Generally speaking, quality improvement or program evaluation activities are understood to be those things relating to the assessment, management, or improvement of a local program or process within an institution or unit - in order to make improvements specifically in that institution or unit. On the other hand, research projects are designed to produce generalizable knowledge about particular questions, processes, interventions, etc. QI/QA/PE projects may be conducted at the discretion of the institution or unit; however, research projects are required to undergo Research Ethics Board review.
Oftentimes, this is not a straightforward question to answer. However, it is very important that a determination is made as soon as you have a new project in mind. For example, if you are conducting a 'QI project' that is actually a research project, you are technically in violation of UCalgary ethical policies - as all research projects require ethics approval. The Research Ethics Board cannot grant retrospective ethics approval.
To determine whether or not your project is QI,QA, PE, or research, please work through Steps 1-3 on this webpage.
The intent to publish or present is generally not presumed at the outset of a QI, QA, or PE project. Dissemination of project results typically does not occur beyond the institution or unit involved.
Dissemination of project results may occur in quality improvement publications/fora. When published or presented to a wider audience, the intent is to suggest potentially effective models, strategies, assessment tools or to provide benchmarks or base rates - rather than to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
Quantitative Data Analysis
Designing a study includes developing good research question(s), choosing an appropriate methodology, estimating sample size, selecting data collection tools, and creating an analysis plan. Click here to learn more.
A good rule of thumb to follow in these cases is to obtain 25% of the sample size needed for the full research study.
The sample size calculation depends on your hypothesis test, the significance level (usually set as 5%), and the power and results from your pilot study. There are many formulas available for different research situations. Click here to learn more.
For surveys, Qualtrics has a sample size calculator.
Most statistical analyses require data normality, such ANOVA or linear regression. However, some tests are parametric-independent and do not require data to meet the normality assumption. While transformations can be performed to produce normally distributed data, this is trickier to do.
When your sample size is relatively large, then the assumption of normality may be relaxed.
When the sample size is sufficiently large (>200 per group), the normality assumption can be relaxed because the Central Limit Theorem ensures that the distribution of the noise or disturbance term will approximate normality.
When you have very small samples, it is important to check for a possible violation of the normality assumption.
Level of significance, α, is the pre-set level of error that you are willing to commit in your research, determined before your data collection. It is usually set at 0.05 or 0.01, more rarely at 0.10.
P-value is the actual level of error found when you perform the statistical test. When p-value < α, then it supports the evidence against the null hypothesis (no effect) and your results are ‘statistically significant’. The smaller the p-value, the stronger the evidence.
It is a good idea to support a p-value with a confidence interval (CI) for the estimate or effect size being tested. The ‘estimate of the effect’ you found is only for the sample data you collected. The ‘true effect’ for the whole population may be different, but we can be assured that 95% of the time it will fall within the confidence interval.
Power is the ability of the statistical test to detect differences or effects that lead to rejection of the null hypothesis. It depends on the sample size. The larger the sample size, the bigger the power.
It is important to calculate the sample size to have sufficient power before you begin your data collection. When your sample size is small, your study might not be able to detect the difference or effect, even when it is real, because of lack of power. Click here to learn more.
Statistical significance simply means that we reject the null hypothesis (no effect). For example, a clinical trial may enrol hundreds of thousands of patients to compare a new anti-hypertension drug with the current one. Because of the large sample, the test may reject the null hypothesis that the two drugs are equivalent. However, in practice, the difference between them may be relatively small and have no real clinical significance. The clinician should not just blindly follow the results, but should combine professional judgement with statistical evidence.
Ethics & AHS Approval
Yes, the Nursing Research Office reviews all ethics applications from Nursing faculty and students before they are submitted to the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (CHREB) or the Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta-Cancer Committee (HREBA.CC).
The Nursing Research Office has created ethics checklists for faculty and students to help you navigate the ethics application process.
No. Ethics approval must be sought prior to the initiation of research involving human participants. The University’s ethics board does not and cannot grant approval for work already undertaken. Click here to learn more.
Activities exempt from ethics review include Quality Improvement (QI), Quality Assurance (QA), and Program Evaluation (PE) studies, which are understood to be those things relating to the assessment, management, or improvement of a local program.
Learn the difference between QI/QA/PE and research studies - and whether or not ethics approval is needed before you begin your study.
Ideally, funding should be in place (when applicable) before a researcher submit their ethics application. If funding is pending, the ethics application will only move forward if the researcher assures the Research Ethics Board that the study will take place regardless of whether or not funding is received.
If the study is unfunded, but there are costs associated with the study, the PI must indicate how these costs will be covered (e.g., personal funds, department funds).
Creating an IRISS account is very easy! Simply go to the IRISS website and click on the ‘Not Registered Yet’ button. You will fill out a short registration survey and within 24 hours you should receive e-mail confirmation that your account has been set up.
The Tri-Council Policy Statement 2 2018 (TCPS2 2018) contains the rules and guidelines set forth by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for the ethical conduct of research involving human participants and/or their data.
The TCPS2 certification is a requirement for all faculty and students who are conducting research involving human participants and/or their data. This certification must be uploaded to your individual “Researcher Profile” in IRISS prior to submitting your ethics application. The certification process involves completing the 2-3 hours TCPS2 Tutorial.
In accordance with Health Canada and FDA regulations and NIH requirements, the University of Calgary has training requirements for researchers and support staff involved in clinical research. GCP training is required for all researchers and support staff involved in an interventional clinical research study.
(In addition, Health Canada Division 5 Training will be required for all researchers and support staff involved in a clinical research study that uses a drug as an intervention.)
The UCalgary research community is able to access GCP and Health Canada Division 5 online courses free of charge through CITI Canada.
If your project is related to cancer in any way (e.g., you are recruiting oncology patients or nurses who care for them, you want to collect data about cancers) then you must apply to the Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta Cancer Committee (HREBA.CC) for ethics approval.
While you will still submit your ethics application via IRISS, you must:
An application that is complete, accurate, and concise may take less time because there will be less back and forth between the Nursing Research Office (NRO) and the researcher prior to obtaining the Faculty signature, and then between the ethics board and the researcher once the application is submitted to CHREB or HREBA.CC.
Overall, please allow at least 4-6 weeks to complete the entire ethics approval process: NRO + CHREB/HREBA. (The NRO typically provides feedback within several business days of receiving the researcher's review request.)
If AHS operational approval is required as well, please allow for a few additional weeks.
CHREB advises investigators to modify their research protocols where possible to minimize personal contacts, including lab visits or trips into clinics and hospitals.
Where in-person participant interactions can be reduced or replaced with telephone or online communication, this should be done. Considerations include the nature of the protocol, the type of participants engaged in the research, and any additional risk that may arise by switching from in-person to virtual communication. Revised participant consents or consent addendums may be required (e.g., to update with COVID-19 risk mitigation measures, to update with revised privacy considerations if online methods to be).
Yes, all ethics applications must include CHREB’s budget summary document.
If your project is self-funded, you will need to indicate this in Section 1A; also, note that the project expenses you plan to incur will be provided ‘in-kind’ using your own funds (e.g. computer, gift cards, recorder.). Please delete all line items in Section 2 that do not pertain to your study.
Yes, you will need support letters to demonstrate that you have access to the participants and/or data that you want to include in your study. Support letters should be uploaded to the IRISS ethics application (Documentation, Section 12.0).
For example, if you are recruiting patients, clients, and/or staff from a hospital or community organization, you will need a letter from the relevant manager (or other appropriate person) that documents their support for your project, pending ethics approval.
Letters of support can be either a formal letter or an email exchange between the parties that has been captured via screenshot or as a PDF.
Electronic documentation of consent may be used when researchers conduct the consent process with participants in person, as well as when potential participants are not physically present with the researcher during the consent process. Additional guidance can be found here.
If you are using the Qualtrics online platform in your research project to collect survey data, you may use the following information in your ethics application and informed consent form(s) to describe the data security and privacy protections:
The University of Calgary uses an online survey tool called Qualtrics. It is the online-website survey platform from which the ________ survey will be conducted on. As per Qualtrics’ statement and the University of Calgary's policies and regulations regarding the use of this survey tool, the end-user account is only accessed by the research team, and data is not transferred to third parties for any other purposes. This survey does not ask for personal identifiers or any information that may be used to identify participants. All data collected using the software are stored on a Canadian server.
Modifications, Renewals, & Closures
To create a modification in IRISS, simply go into your approved ethics application and click “Create a Modification.”
Changes that substantially alter the nature of an approved project may be assessed as a new research project and require that a new ethics application be submitted.
Ethics approval is valid for one year. You will receive an e-mail directly from IRISS 30 days before your ethics certification expires. Once you receive this e-mail, you can log in to your ethics application and press the “Create a Renewal” button.
Guidelines regarding renewal applications in IRISS are found here.
Ethics certifications are valid for a one year period. The onus is on the Principal Investigator (PI) to ensure studies are renewed in a timely manner.
The management of expired ethics certificates is an automated system process via IRISS. Any funding associated with expired certifications will be suspended within 30 days of an expired certificate. Please read this guidance document for more information.
A study can only be closed when ALL data collection procedures have been completed.
Studies that have completed subject recruitment (i.e., closed to accrual) are not considered closed if data related to the subjects are still being collected. If a study is grant funded, a completion notice should not be submitted to the ethics board until there is no active grant that requires ethics approval.
To create a closure in IRISS, simply go into your approved ethics application and click “Request Closure”.
Updating the study team does not require an ethics modification. Simply log in to IRISS, click on your approved study, and then click on the “Update Study Team” button on the left hand side. A dialogue box will pop up for you to add or remove team members.
Ideally, you should have an ethics certificate active as long as the project is active, including when you are analyzing data or writing manuscripts.
The Nursing Research Office only reviews your initial ethics application.
Once you have received ethics certification from CHREB or HREBA.CC, you may contact AHS to request operational approval for your study. Click below to access the online AHS questionnaire and a tip sheet to help you complete it correctly.
It typically takes 10 business days for AHS to process and approve operational access requests. However, more complex studies (e.g., requiring access to multiple sites or large datasets) may require additional time.
AHS will notify the study PI directly once operational approval has been granted.
Recruitment & Data Collection
Pre-approval is required prior to accessing Faculty of Nursing students, faculty, staff, or other resources (e.g. space, bulletin boards) for research purposes.
While completing your ethics application, please also fill out this form to initiate this approval process.
All UCalgary faculty, staff, and students have free access to the Qualtrics online survey platform.
If you want to record an interview over a landline telephone you will need an adapter that hooks into the telephone and plugs into your audio recorder.
If you want to record an interview via Zoom, there are recording options available for audio and video recording (note that you must follow the procedure described in your approved ethics application).
Project Set-up and Administration
The Nursing Research Facilitator (RF) will liaise with the University’s Research Services and Research Accounting offices on your behalf, including assistance with completing a new Project Request Form (if applicable). Please forward the NOA/LOA to the Nursing Research Facilitator with a request to set-up your new project.
A PRF is used to request that a new project account be set-up to administer your funding award. A PRF is required only if your grant application was not processed through the University’s Research Services Office (RSO) - which is generally the case for internal awards, for example. For projects requiring a PRF, please send the completed and signed form to the Nursing Research Facilitator, who will obtain the Faculty signature and forward the PRF and supporting documents to RSO on your behalf.
The Research Appointment Summary document from Human Resources provides a definition for each research appointment type and includes information about benefits, vacation and special leave entitlements. The process to hire or initiate a payment for each type of research appointment role is outlined here, as are the procedures for making changes to appointments (e.g. extensions, changing funding sources, terminations).
Requirements depend on the funding agency. It is the responsibility of the project holder to contact the agency to request an extension. Some agencies may not allow extensions. For internal grants, please contact the Nursing Research Facilitator.
For external grants, once official approval from an agency is received, please forward it to the appropriate Research Grants Officer in Research Services (or email@example.com if you are unsure of who to contact). Tri-council has specific regulations around extensions – some programs have automatic extension periods, and others require written approval. Please consult the Tri-agency financial guide for details. In the case of grants governed by agreements or sub-grants from other institutions, normally an amendment to the agreement will need to be initiated by the primary institution and executed by all parties to authorize an extension. Contact the Research Grants Officer if you are unsure of the requirements.
The Legal & IP team in the Research Services Office oversees the creation and review of research agreements for all faculties except the Cumming School of Medicine. The Legal & IP team ensures all agreements accurately reflects the terms of the relationship and they meet the requirements of the researchers, students, University and sponsors involved in the research project. Their review also ensures each specific research project complies with University policies.
All research agreements are created in the name of the Governors of the University of Calgary are signed by the Vice-President (Research) or delegate under the Signing Authority Policy. Research agreements which do not comply with this requirement may not be binding on the University of Calgary.
KT & Research Impact
Authors are responsible for covering open access fees. The University’s Open Access Authors Fund was closed in October 2018 and will not be reinstated. Consider budgeting for open access fees in your next grant application. If you do not have the funds or are a student, the Scientific Writer can work with you to find options from the many journals that do not charge open access fees.
As well, through library licensing agreements with certain publishers, APC discounts are available to UofC authors interested in submitting to their open access journals.
Beyond original research articles, authors can write about many topics. Here are some suggested topics and article types:
- Students in program: Literature reviews, Methodology papers, Philosophy papers, Other discussion papers, Concept analysis, Protocols for original research or systematic reviews
- Teaching: Educational innovations, Personal essays, Simulation scenarios, Policy articles, Curriculum development, Meeting reports
- Clinical practice: Quality improvement projects, Implementation science articles, Policy articles, Best practices, Case studies, Literature reviews
Where possible, authorship should be discussed well in advance of writing the paper. Please refer to the Faculty of Nursing Authorship Policy, which uses the International Committee of Medial Journal Editors (ICMJE) Authorship and Contributorship Guidelines. Contributors to a published work who meet the following four criteria should be identified as authors.
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- Final approval of the version to be published; AND
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Contributors who meet criterion #1 should have the opportunity for authorship and be able to participate in the review, drafting, and final approval of the manuscript. Contributors to a published work who do not meet all of the four criteria above, may be acknowledged.
Journals may ask for authors to identify the specific ways they contributed to the paper. The Credit Taxonomy may be helpful in classifying the different role of contributors.
Authorship order is a complex topic and needs to be negotiated as a team. Teams may use the following criterion for selecting author order:
- First author: most significant intellectual contribution to the work, led the writing
- In between: most contribution to least contribution
- Last author: Senior author: grant holder, implies seniority and mentoring of junior authors
- Corresponding author (administrative role only): at institution long term (vs student)
Please meet with the Scientific Writer if you have any concerns about a potential journal or conference. Review the How to detect a potential predatory/deceptive journal checklist from the Center for Journaology, OHRI.
There are many software programs that are available to all University of Calgary faculty, staff, and students. You can log in to the University Software Distribution site for instructions and a list of the many programs that you can download.
The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) is one data analysis program that you can use to analyze your quantitative research data (e.g., t-tests, ANOVAs, regressions). If you are not familiar with SPSS, there are many online resources that you may find helpful. You can try IBM’s SPSS website for more information or use some online tutorial guides to help you figure out how to do a certain type of analysis. The Nursing Research Office Biostatistician is available for an SPSS consultation.
NVivo is an excellent software platform that allows you to analyze qualitative data such as interviews and focus groups. The NVivo website has many helpful resources such as training guides and webinars. The Nursing Research Office Research Associate is available for NVivo consultation.
The University of Calgary has a university-wide subscription to Qualtrics. All data collected with your University of Calgary Qualtrics account are stored on Canadian server.