IRB Faculty FAQs

Get answers to all your questions about the IRB process for faculty members.

When is a full review required?

When some or all of the subjects are likely to be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence, such as children, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled persons, or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons, additional safeguards must be included in the study to protect the rights and welfare of these subjects.

Often, faculty require students in one or more of their courses to collect data from human subjects. For example, the intent of this student research may be to learn research methodology. Does each student or perhaps the faculty member need to submit these projects for IRB review?

The faculty person should submit the educational project to the committee and request a three-year exemption from further review. The faculty should follow the process for exempt review and submit a description of the course activity to the committee accompanied by the exempt form.

If the project turns into a capstone project or thesis, the student should submit a proposal for their project.

Does research involving surveys and questionnaires need IRB approval?

Yes. The form of the study does not matter as much as the content of the study. In other words, the IRB determines the level of review based on the degree of risk involved to the participant. For example, a survey that asks participants to describe their sexual behavior would most likely be given a full review whereas an experiment involving varying types of management procedures would most likely be considered worthy of expedited review. Contact the IRB to discuss your particular study.

Is IRB approval needed when "pilot studying" a questionnaire?

Yes. Rights of human subjects should be protected even during the pilot phase of a study.

Does online research need IRB approval, even when the information is available to the public?

Yes. IRB approval is necessary whenever conducting research with human subjects, even if the information is publicly available. However, online research raises many new ethical questions and dilemmas that researchers and IRBs have not previously faced. Although more information will be coming out soon about ethical guidelines for online data collection, there are some summaries, commentaries, and early versions of guidelines available at: