Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why should I complete an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application?
The WOU research community has the responsibility to ensure that the treatment of human participants meets the highest ethical standard, as well as complies with the many federal regulations related to the protection of human subjects. The purpose of the IRB's review and approval of research conducted by the university's students, faculty and staff is to assure the protection of the participants, the researcher, and the university. In addition, as a recipient of federal research funding and student scholarships, the university is required to assure and provide for the protection of all participants in the university's research endeavors. Failure to do so could lead to the loss of federal funding to the university (this means ALL funding, including student financial aid) and increased liability to the university and/or the researcher.
2. Does my study require IRB approval?
If the proposed research activity involves human participants and may contribute to generalizable knowledge, the activity will require review and approval by the WOU Institutional Review Board (IRB) before any recruitment or research involving human participants may begin. IRB review and approval is required for all research projects involving human participants, regardless of the source of funding for the project or the level of risk posed to participants. A study requires IRB approval if it is research which involves human subjects or collecting information from or about human subjects.
3. What is the definition of research?
The Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46.102 (d)) defines research as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
A Systematic investigation means an activity that may include:
Contributions to generalizable knowledge means public presentation of the study data through any of the following:
4. What is the definition of human subject?
Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46.102), define a human subject as any living individual about whom an investigator obtains data:
Private information must be individually identifiable and includes:
5. What do I have to do to obtain IRB approval?
An IRB application packet must be completed and submitted. It includes:
6. Must I submit extra copies of my IRB application and supporting materials?
When submitting your application and materials, please remember that for:
The original must be single-sided and not stapled. Copies may be stapled and doublesided. You may submit the completed application and its accompanying copies to any current WOU IRB member.
7. How do I know if my project is exempt, expedited or full board?
Most proposals fall into the exempt or expedited categories since participants are exposed to little or no risk. Please refer to the Level of Review page for specific descriptions of each category or contact one of the above IRB members for consultation. Researchers are asked to predict their protocol status on their application.
8. Do I need to go through the IRB process if my project is exempt?
Yes. If the proposed research activity involves human participants and may contribute to "generalizable knowledge", it still must be submitted as described above and reviewed by the IRB before any recruitment or involvement of human participants.
9. Do I need to get consent from my participants if my project is exempt?
Yes, all research requires that participants be informed of their rights and the nature of the study. For more information about consent requirements, please refer to the WOU IRB website (http://www.wou.edu/irb) or contact an IRB member.
10. Can the IRB give approval once data collection has begun?
No, the IRB is unable to provide approval of a research project after data collection has begun. As a result, it is essential that researchers receive IRB approval in advance if it is possible that their work may contribute to generalizable knowledge or they may at some point desire to present their findings outside of the institutional setting (e.g., at a conference, via publication, on the World Wide Web, etc.).
Faculty oversight of student research
1. Do I need to require my students to get IRB approval for class research projects? What is the responsibility of the WOU instructor with regard to student research?
The IRB is responsible for ensuring that research projects are conducted in accordance with accepted ethical and governmental standards related to the protection of human subjects. Although the IRB requires that a faculty member supervise all student research projects, direct IRB review of student projects is only necessary under certain circumstances.
2. What types of student research activities DO require direct review by the IRB?
IRB approval is typically required for a student research project when human subjects are involved and the primary objective is the development of new knowledge. Students who engage in such research must submit an IRB proposal [http://www.wou.edu/irb] consistent with the aforementioned process. All such projects must involve a sponsoring/supervising faculty member who must approve and sign the IRB application before forwarding it to the IRB chairperson.
3. What types of student research activities DO NOT require direct review by the IRB?
IRB approval is typically not required for a student research project involving human subjects when the primary objective is for the student researcher to learn research methods and procedures. Specifically, it is not necessary for the IRB to review these projects when the all of following conditions are met:
Although research projects meeting the aforementioned conditions do not require IRB approval, instructors are expected to actively supervise student research projects and to educate their students about the ethical guidelines related to the protection of human subjects.
4. Are IRB applications required for students participating in the Academic Excellence Showcase?
Yes, if human subjects are involved and the primary objective is the development of new knowledge (i.e., thesis)
No, if the primary objective is for the student researcher to learn research methods and procedures. Additionally, such student research must meet all of the following conditions:
5. What if I'm not sure whether or not the student research will be distributed beyond WOU?
If faculty believe there is the potential for students to present research at a local, state or national conference, as a result of research activities conducted within a course, it is the responsibility of the WOU faculty member to complete an IRB application for that course. Please contact a WOU IRB committee member to assist you with this process.
6. Can the IRB give approval once data collection has begun?
The IRB is unable to provide approval of a research project after the data collection period has begun. As a result, it is essential that student researchers seek IRB approval in advance if they anticipate a need or desire, however remote, to disseminate their findings outside of the institutional setting (e.g., at a conference, via publication, on the World Wide Web, etc.).
Institutional Research Board (503)838-9200 | or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org