Does this apply to me? Depends, are you doing research with human subjects?

Research means systematic investigations intended to create generalized knowledge.

Human subjects are living people about whom a researcher collects data and/or identifiable, private information.

If yes, then your project needs IRB review1(even if it is a minimal risk).

  • Most faculty and senior independent study-type research using human subjects will require IRB review
  • The Student Research Forum requires IRB review for all human subjects research projects
  • IRB approval must be obtained prior to any subject recruitment or data collection.


What about classroom projects?

Any classroom project that is more than minimal risk requires IRB review.

Minimal risk means that any risks are no greater than those encountered in normal day-to-day life. Examples of activities that are not Minimal risk:

  • Consumption of anything
  • Biological sample collection that breaks the skin
  • Questions that could cause psychological harm (e.g., traumatic or triggering events)
  • Collection of identifiable information that could be used to harm or discriminate against someone, even if you wouldn't use it in that way (e.g., medical conditions,sexual orientation, gender identity)

Classroom projects used as means to teach or demonstrate methodology or lab skills (especially those that will have only the classroom as the audience), rather than the creation of generalizable knowledge may be done without IRB review as long as they meet the definition of minimal risk. However, classroom projects (individual or group, poster or presentation) involving human subjects that students may want to present at the Student Research Forum need IRB review. If you are an instructor doing classroom projects involving human subjects, please complete our Centenary IRB Researcher Training Modules and consider having your students do so. For any classroom project you’re not sure about, you can get a quick consult with any member of the IRB.


How long does the IRB process take?

Once you submit the paperwork and proof of IRB training (see IRB website or contact IRB Chair), it can take up to 2 weeks, but usually less.


Why do we have to do this? Can't you just trust me and my discretion?

The scientific community agrees that individual scientists cannot appropriately police themselves because sometimes we make mistakes. The IRB exists to minimize risk to human subjects and protect researchers and the College from liability.


1 Beginning in 2018, scholarly and journalistic activities (e.g., oral history, journalism, biography, literary criticism, legal research and historical scholarship), including the collection and use of information that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected will not require review.

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy The institution does not discriminate in its educational and employment policies against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or on any other basis proscribed by federal, state, or local law.