Ethics Review

Please review the Research Ethics Boards (REBs) website for application instructions and submission deadlines.


Everyone’s experience with the REB will be slightly different, based on the nature of their project. Be prepared for this process to take time and attention.

Please view the REB website for full guidelines and procedures. 

Notes for CDTPS students

  • Attend a Research Ethics Seminar. From time to time, CDTPS may organize an “in-house” seminar. However, the REB offers seminars every year, usually in November and February. Please check Research and Innovation's Training and Resources page for more information. 
  • Your form must be signed by your supervisor and a CDTPS representative, most likely either the Director or the Associate Director, Graduate. 
  • Once your form is submitted, there will be a waiting period of 3-6 weeks for comments and notes from the REB. Subsequent submissions of edits and revisions will be reviewed quickly. You may only begin the research covered by the Ethics Protocol once the protocol is in place.
  • Once your protocol is in place, you may begin your research. You will be assigned a protocol reference number. Protocols are in place for one calendar year. You must submit an annual renewal form or a study completion report 15–30 days prior to the expiry date of your protocol.
  • Your REB contact is Dean Sharpe. 
  • The REB only accepts applications once your thesis proposal has been approved.

Helpful Links and Forms

FAQs for Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies Students

What follows are general answers to some of the larger questions involved in Ethics Protocols for research with performance. However, it is only a guideline, and each study must be evaluated individually. When in doubt, please consult with Dean Sharpe at REB, Jill Carter at CDTPS, and especially your own supervisor.

This question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. The majority of projects undertaken by PhD students at CDTPS do not require an ethics protocol. However, these numbers have been changing in recent years, as more and more of our students are conducting practice-based, performance, and interview-based work. As a general rule, if you are conducting interviews, or organizing a rehearsal/performance process for the purposes of your thesis study, then you will require an Ethics Protocol.

It is likely you will require a protocol if you are:

  • Interviewing artists, practitioners, and members of the public
  • Creating a rehearsal/performance process for the express purposes of your PhD research (unless you are the only participant)
  • Soliciting audience responses to performances, either through survey, interview, or other methods
  • Testing a theory or creating a space of observation within a rehearsal or performance setting
  • Conducting any population survey work
  • It is likely you will not require a protocol if you are:
    • Observing public performances
    • Observing someone else’s rehearsal process
      • (but not interviewing or leading a focus group)
    • Attending public, post-show talk backs
      • (though if you are moderating or hoping to quote people directly, that may fall under ethics review)
    • Basing your research on published documents and public events
    • Creating a solo performance for yourself

Again, the answer is determined based on what it is you would like to do. It is best to consult with the course instructor on whether a protocol is necessary. It is likely that you do not require a protocol, unless your work involves research on people. For more information, please read “Course-based Research” found on the Humans in Research web page

Social Sciences, Humanities and Education REB

Chair: Professor Sarah Wakefield

Research Ethics Manager: Dr. Dean Sharpe

Departments covered: All disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, education (OISE/UT), applied sciences.

You must apply before you begin your field research. The REB requires that the thesis proposal be approved. At CDTPS, we recommend that this step be taken after the prospectus defense. It may occur at any stage after the proposal has been approved. For example: a 4th year student, who is in the process of writing chapter two, has the opportunity to privately interview the playwright she is studying. She can apply for ethics review at this point (leaving ample time for review and edits before the protocol is in place and the interview occurs)

This is a REB distinction based on the level of risk expected for research participants, determined through group vulnerability and research risk. Most CDTPS projects fall under delegated review, but not always. Please consult the REB’s risk matrix for more details.

For delegated reviews, the deadline is every Monday by 4pm. For a full review, the submission deadline is once a month. Please consult the REB website for the dates.

Once your protocol is in place, you may request a further review for changes. This will likely take the shape of an amendment to the prior protocol, and keep the same reference number.

In cases where a person expresses physical or emotional hurt because of the research, it is advisable to report to the Office of Research Ethics as soon as possible. In cases where the research reveals surprising, unexpected, or unhelpful results, the REB does not require a special report.

To receive departmental letterhead or to view sample theatre and performance studies students ethics applications, please email Elizabeth Sutherland.

Who can I speak to with further questions?

Dean Sharpe, PhD is the Research Ethics Board Manager for the Social Sciences and Humanities Office of Research Ethics, University of Toronto. He is always happy to answer questions from students. It is best to contact him through email. You can also speak with any of the faculty members at CDTPS, as well as fellow students who have been through the process before.