Is my project QI/QA/PE or research?

Learn the difference and whether or not ethics approval is needed before you begin

Quality Improvement (QI), Quality Assurance (QA), and Program Evaluation (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/QA/PE or research?

Understand the differences

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


Categorize your study

Review this flowchart to help categorize your study as QI/QA/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, QA, or 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, QA, or 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, QA, or PE project - optional, but useful.