For help in determining if your study is QI or research, please contact the Research Ethics Officer.


  • QI is a systematic approach to review of practices and procedures in order to identify possible improvements and to provide a mechanism for bringing them about
  • QI raises questions that might be answered by further research
  • QI is a test of whether things are being done as well as they could/should be. It compares current practice with current standards/best practices
  • QI does not consider a completely new treatment, but tests the adherence to a treatment that is considered to be best practice
  • QI results are “local” to the participant population/location/time
  • QI results are generally for “internal” information
  • QI requires the participation of site-specific people and departments. The data relates only to the specific site or area


  • Research is a systematic investigation which aims to increase the sum of knowledge. It usually involves the testing of a hypothesis or theory
  • Research generates the knowledge that may be tested in Quality Improvement
  • Research may involve a completely new treatment and usually investigates an area where there is no knowledge of the best practice
  • Research results can be generalized across a wide population
  • Research results are generally for “external” information
  • Research requires the participation of participants, and others outside of the specific site or area, so that a representative sample can be obtained and the results generalized
  • Research often will have a defined “end-point” which is researched when an adequate sample size has been obtained
  • Research results are published universally to share the knowledge with a wide user base of persons

A Collaboration of

Disclaimer: The Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board (HiREB) represents the institutions of Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Research St. Joseph's-Hamilton, and the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University and operates in compliance with and is constituted in accordance with the requirements of: The Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans; The International Conference on Harmonization of Good Clinical Practices; Part C Division 5 of the Food and Drug Regulations of Health Canada,  and the provisions of the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act 2004 and its applicable Regulations; For studies conducted at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, HiREB complies with the Health Ethics Guide of the Catholic Alliance of Canada