I'm conducting a case study. Do I need REB approval?

There are two kinds of case studies – research cases and teaching cases.

Teaching case versus research case studies

“..the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used.” (Yin, 1984, p. 23).


Teaching Cases

Research-based Cases

Would be written to support problem-based learning

Would have Case study method recognized as research method to collect empirical data

Would have learning objectives

Makes a conceptual and theoretical contribution to discipline

Would be written as a “story”

Would have research objectives and question (s) (What, How, or Why)

Would require teaching notes

Would include development of research instrument

Would value practical implications more than theoretical knowledge

Could have theoretical propositions


Teaching cases are exempt from ethics review based. This exemption is based on TCPS2(2022) Article 2.5. The REB has determined that the ‘intent or purpose’ of a teaching case is pedagogical rather than research, and thus does not fall under the TCPS2 scope.

Research case studies will be reviewed under the same guidelines as all other research as defined by the TCPS2(2022) Article 2.1.

If the research case involves interaction with the CIO/CEO of a company (or other person in a position of significant power) then the need for a signed consent form may be waived based on TCPS2(2022) Article 10.2.

Other research cases will require review by the REB.

Support info
Human Ethics
Determining when University of Guelph REB approval is required