Is my project QI/PE or research?

Learn the difference between quality improvement (QI), program evaluation (PE), and research projects - and whether or not ethics approval is needed before you begin your study.

QI/PE projects

  • Initiatives that examine activities, programs, or processes within an institution or unit in order to make improvements specifically in that institution or unit
  • An exemption from ethics review may be requested for these studies

Research projects

  • Efforts to produce or contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., testing hypotheses)
  • All research involving human participants requires ethics review

Is my project QI/PE or research?

Understand the differences

Use this table to compare the characteristics of QI/PE and research activities


Categorize your study

Review this flowchart to help categorize your study as QI/PE or research


Assess risk

Complete the ARECCI Screening Tool to assess potential risks to participants


Request exemption

If Steps 1-3 indicate that your project is QI/PE, you still need to request an exemption from CHREB ethics review before beginning your study. 

To request an exemption, email CHREB all of the following information:

Project proposal/protocol

Completed ARECCI Tool

As a PDF or link to the results webpage


A paragraph justifying your belief that this is a QI/PE project (using language from the table and flowchart in Steps 1-2).

Statement of support

A statement noting that the FoN Dean or authorized clinic/department lead supports this as a QI/PE project - optional, but useful.