Frequently Asked Questions


Do I submit my application to MREB or HIREB?
MacREM is not connected or integrated with the HIREB system, even though HiREB uses the same Infonetica ethics review management software as MacREM. Please visit the respective websites of MREB and HiREB for FAQs specifically about research ethics and the policies and procedures that apply. The FAQS here pertain only to how to use the MacREM system. If you are in the Faculty of Health Sciences or Hamilton Health Sciences, you need to obtain clearance from the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (HIREB) You also need clearance from them if you want to do research involving their patients, faculty, students, staff, or use the resources of these McMaster affiliated hospitals; otherwise you need to apply to the McMaster Research Ethics Board. MREB reviews research from faculty, post-doctoral fellows, students and staff outside of the Faculty of Health Sciences that does not involve administering drugs, blood draws, DNA, or invasive physical procedures or clinical trials. Research using fMRI studies are reviewed by the medical REB where the fMRI is to take place. Please contact the ethics office if you are not sure.

MacREM System

Why does MacREM do that the old system did not?
What will the MacREM system do? Automate the application submission and review process using a cutting edge software product Reducing manual processes thus relieving the administrative burden of processing an increasing volume of applications Become the online electronic master record for MREB and SREC Increased sharing, roles, transfer of protocols among collaborating researchers A centralized storage system for all documents and emails for researchers and administration What will happen to my current active applications? You will receive an annual report email as usual from the old system. If you report that your research is ongoing and still active the MREB Ethics Office will transfer it to MacREM on your behalf. As of April 25, 2019, all active applications on the old system will need to be transferred to MacREM before the old system is shut down on July 1, 2019. Researchers for all active and renewed applications have been contacted in this regard.
Where can I get help completing my application form?
There is an Applicant User Guide and related documents in the above Menu - Help - Templates. Contact the ethics office with any questions at ext. 23142. The McMaster Research Ethics Board has monthly informal drop-in sessions if you have questions. The ethics staff are available by email or telephone to answer questions. MREB staff are also available by appointment if you need one-one consultation. If you are a student, working with your supervisor on your application is strongly advisable before submitting it.
Why must all documents uploaded be in PDF format?
The software does a good job converting Word and some other file extensions to PDF but it is not perfect and there are formatting issues. Until this is resolved researchers will be asked to convert documents for uploading into PDF format. McMaster University has a software license with Microsoft for free use of Office 360. These programs have built in PDF file conversion. There are other sites on the internet that provide free PDF file conversion.
Are there any sample applications or templates I can see or use?
The McMaster Research Ethics Board website or the MacREM system does not have examples of applications, but it does have many samples and templates for appendices that you are encouraged to use and modify for your study. These samples can be found on MacREM in the menu above Help - Templates. In addition, the MREB website has a variety of tips for completing the forms and responding to the Chair during the review process.
How do I save my text on the form?
Autosave is instantaneous when you navigate using Previous- Next. Text will also save if you Navigate away from the page, submit or run the completeness check. However, it is advisable to use the SAVE icon if you are staying on a page for a long time in order to prevent loss of data due to unexpected internet outage or other such uncontrolled events.
How do I go to the next page or section of questions?
Navigate to the next or previous sections or questions by clicking the NEXT--> or <--PREVIOUS icons in the upper left navigation panel. You can return to the Section Index by clicking the Navigation button. You can return to the Work Area in the menu at the top to start again at the point where you land on login.
Why are question numbers on the form out of sequence?
Question numbering sequential order changes based on question selection. It doesn't necessarily mean that you may have missed some questions. Entire sections of questions may be skipped depending on your answers to some questions.
What software is MacREM built on?
An UK company called Infonetica created the software. It created the centralized software review system for the entire UK. Infonetica is now implemented in Ontario at: 1. Clinical Trials Ontario (CTO Stream) 2. Western University (WREM) 3. Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board (OCREB) 4. Hamilton Integration Research Ethics Board (HiREB) MacREM is not connected or integrated with the HIREB system.
How and when do I submit an Annual Report on MacREM?
You will be notified with 4 automated reminder emails before the expiry date (a year after clearance) to prompt you to complete an Annual Report. Annual Reports are created as sub-forms on MacREM. You can't create the Annual Report sub-form (or any sub-form) until your initial application has been approved.
How can I make a change to my research cleared by MREB?
MacREM has an Amendment sub-form for revisions to the originally cleared protocol. Amendments are reviewed by the Chair and have a shorter turn-around time. For purely administrative changes or really minor tweaks to an application, you may be able to submit a For Information Only sub-form. Contact the Ethics Office to see if you qualify.
Are there many system updates? What will happen?
As of August 26, 2019 MacREM is running V0.9, the ninth published version. The earliest official version was V0.1, which ran from June 2018 - August 2018. It is not expected that there will be many updates or new versions. If there is a new update, the project owner and others on the team will see the update announcement when they login. Only the project owner can activate the update. It is strongly recommended that all updates be activated. A general announcement email about the update will be sent to the list of MacREM Users. After an update is complete, you may have new questions to complete if you were working on an application. You may also have to add your personal contacts again into the project you were working on. Signatures are sometimes invalidated if you were working on an update before submitting.
Do external researchers need a MacID?
If you are a non-McMaster researcher and you wish to apply to MREB using MacREM, you will need to apply for a MacID. To apply for a MacID, email using your institutional email account with “MacREM MacID POI Request” in the email subject line. Be sure to include your date of birth in the email as this is required by McMaster UTS in order to create your MacID POI account. Once your MacID is created, you will be able to log into MacREM using your MacID. Allow 3 – 4 business day for processing. When filling out the MacREM form, use your primary institutional email (not your new MacID email)
Is there a file upload limit for documents?
The current upload limit for individual documents to MacREM is 150 megabytes. You can upload in most file formats, i.e., PDF, Word, zip. Reference a link to a video instead of uploading a huge file. However, because of document rendered issues with the software Download All as PDF feature, MacREM has to ask that all documents UPLOAD AS PDF FILES ONLY.

MacREM Information Sessions

Can I make an appointment for help with MacREM?
Yes. Please contact ext. 23142.
Is there support in my Faculty or Department for MacREM?
There will be information sessions and "local experts" in faculties and departments to support researchers with their MacREM applications. Stay tuned to emails or other announcements from your administrators. This is in addition to outside help from the Ethics Office and their information sessions.

Supported Browsers

What browser does MacREM support?
MacREM supports the mainstream browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. It does not support Epic and the TOR browser has not been extensively tested. Best to use the mainstream browser to be assured of never losing data.

Transfer from Old System

How do I transfer my applications from the old MREB System to MacREM?
After you submit an annual report on the old MREB system stating that your research is ongoing, the MREB Ethics Office will upload a master record PDF of your application to MacREM on your behalf. If you indicate that your research project is complete, it will not be transferred to MacREM.
Can I create a MacREM account before transferring an active application to MacREM?
Yes you can create a MacREM account at anytime to create NEW applications. You should not create a Transfer to MacREM application yourself. The Ethics Office will upload the PDF master record of your active application from the old system to MacREM on your behalf if you indicate that the research is ongoing in your annual reports from the old system.
I have 8 active MREB applications. Will this be a lot of work to transfer to MacREM?
No. The MREB Ethics Office will transfer active research applications to MacREM on your behalf.
Will I get a new MREB# on MacREM when I transfer my active protocol?
Yes. All transfer basic data applications will receive a new MacREM reference number. This will be the new MREB number you will need to reference for future correspondence. A record to the old MREB number and application will still exist, but will no longer be the official clearance number.


Who signs applications on MacREM?
There are 3 signature types on MacREM: 1. Principal Investigators 2. Supervisors 3. Student Principal Investigators Course instructors will be signing as Principal Investigators of the course-based applications they must create and own.
Does my supervisor have to register with MacREM before I can request their signature?
Yes. Make sure your supervisor has logged into MacREM at least once. Just logging in once automatically registers them. You can search for your Supervisor in the Search User field in the Supervisor contact form on the MREB Standard Application. If they are in the system, the form will populate automatically. If they are not in the system, contact your supervisor and ask them to sign into MacREM. Only once they are registered with MacREM, can you Request their signature to complete the application.
Do students have to sign applications?
If you are the student Principal Investigator, and you are a post-doc, PhD, Masters, or undergrad student, you will have to sign your MREB Standard Application, and obtain the signature of your Supervisor.
Do we need to sign again if we have to respond to comments from the MREB?
Yes. Each time an application is re-submitted - usually when requests for revisions or clarifications have been made - you and your supervisor will need to sign off on the application.
I requested a signature from my Supervisor but they never responded.
You should ask the supervisor to check their junk mail or look for emails from (the server for the application is a company in the UK). There are guidance documents and short Youtube video clips on how to sign student MacREM applications.
I am with a group of students. Do we all have to sign?
No. Only one student PI will need to sign if your project is with a group of students. The students in the group can be listed on the application. Only one supervisor will need to sign. Collaborating supervisors cannot sign.
What other forms do student PIs have to sign?
Student principal investigators need to sign the MREB Standard Application and any amendments. They don't need to sign any other sub-forms like Annual Reports, For Information Only, or Reportable Events. For those, they can complete the forms as applicants, and then request their Supervisor sign off.
Are forms submitted as soon as they are signed?
Yes. Currently, the application form has auto-submit enabled, which means when you click the Sign button you will get one more warning and then your application will be submitted.

Sharing & Roles

How do I share an application with team members?
First; are you the project owner? Did you create the application? If you did, you can give team members Roles on your project and then assign them Sharing permissions. You can later edit the permissions in the Collaborators tile.
What are the Roles I can assign to the study team on MacREM?
Here are the following Roles that can be assigned to a project team by clicking the Roles tile in a created project: 1. Principal Investigator 2. Student Investigator 3. Student Supervisor 4. Instructor 5. Course Co-Instructor 6. Collaborator 7. Co-Investigator 8. Research Co-ordinator / Assistant
What are the sharing permissions to assign project team members?
Permissions to share with others on your team: 1. Read 2. Write 3. Submit 4. Share 5. Create all sub-forms 6. Receive notifications
How do I edit sharing permissions?
If you have created Roles and assigned sharing permissions you can edit the permissions by clicking the Collaborators tile. You have to be viewing or navigating the application before you can see the Collaborators tile.
Can I share the application if they don't have a role on the team?
Yes you can share the application with anyone who has a MacID, even users who don't have Roles on your project.
Can our team make comments on the draft of our application to share?
Yes. Click the bubble on an open application above and to the right of a question or panel to add a comment to share with your team. Your team comments are only visible to your team. When you see a question with a comment bubble increment by one, that means a comment has been added to that panel or question.

Review Time

Will MacREM improve the review turn around time?
While there is a baseline measurement of review time using the older system it remains to be seen whether or not MacREM will improve the turn around time. It will capture most if not all of the documentation during the review process so at least the administrative time to organize and manage documents will be greatly reduced.

Project Owner

Can there be more than one project owner?
Essentially whoever creates a project is the project owner and has a default status of being the applicant on the project. However, a Research Assistant (RA) can be a project owner who creates an application on behalf of a Principal Investigator (PI). There can be only one project owner however. If there are system updates, others on the team can't proceed with completing an application or sub-forms until the project owner does the update.
I am leaving the university but I am a project owner. How do I give it to others on the team?
If you are a project owner who created a project but are no longer involved with it or are leaving the university, you can transfer the ownership to another member on your team who has Shared permissions. You click the Transfer button to do that. You will be warned that once you transfer the application, you will no longer have access to it. The new owner will receive an email and must accept the transfer inside the system in order to complete the transfer. There is also an ability within the system to only transfer individual forms, like amendments.