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Review of a mock research protocol in functional neuroimaging by Canadian research ethics boards
  1. J de Champlain1,
  2. J Patenaude2
  1. 1Centre de recherche clinique, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke
  1. Correspondence to:
 J Patenaude
 Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, 3001 Twelfth Avenue North, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1H 5N4; johane.patenaude{at}


Objective: To examine how research ethics boards (REBs) review research projects in emerging disciplines such as functional neuroimaging.

Design: To compare the criteria applied and the decisions reached by REBs that reviewed the same mock research protocol in functional neuroimaging.

Participants: 44 Canadian biomedical REBs, mostly working in public university or hospital settings.

Main measurements: The mock research protocol “The Neurobiology of Social Behavior” included several ethical issues operating at all three levels: personal, institutional and social. Data consisting of responses to closed questions were analysed quantitatively. Qualitative analysis of open-question responses used mixed classification.

Results: Similar criteria were used by most participating REBs. Yet the project was unconditionally approved by 3 REBs, approved conditionally by 10 and rejected by 30.

Conclusions: The results point to the difficulty for REBs of reviewing all kinds of research projects, regardless of field, by relying on international and national norms framed in general terms and a possible variation between REBs in the interpretation of their mandate for the protection of research subjects.

  • QEEG, quantitative electroencephalograph
  • REB, research ethics board

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  • Funding: This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

  • Competing interests: None.

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