Human Research Protection Program Policy and Procedure Manual - Section 11

11 Investigator Responsibilities

11.1 Purpose

11.2 Investigators

11.3 Responsibilities

11.4 Training / Ongoing Education of Investigators and Research Team

11.4.1 Orientation

11.4.2 Initial Education

11.4.3 Continuing Education and Recertification

11.4.4 Additional Resources


11 Investigator Responsibilities
11.1 Purpose

The following procedures describe the investigator responsibilities in the conduct of research involving human participants.


11.2 Investigators

Principal investigators are ultimately responsible for the conduct of research.  Principal investigators may delegate research responsibility. However, investigators must maintain oversight and retain ultimate responsibility for the conduct of those to whom they delegate responsibility.


Principal Investigators

At Brown University only faculty or staff members with University-paid appointments and graduate students (with an advisor’s collaboration) may serve as the Principal Investigator on a research project involving human participants.  Specific and unusual circumstances may arise where the Principal Investigator may have an unpaid University courtesy appointment.


The IRB recognizes one Principal Investigator (PI) for each study.  The PI has ultimate responsibility for the research activities.


Protocols that require skills beyond those held by the Principal Investigator must be modified to meet the investigator's skills or have one or more additional qualified faculty as co-investigator(s).


Student Investigators

Undergraduate students may not serve as Principal Investigators. They must have a faculty sponsor who fulfills the PI eligibility criteria and who will serve as PI and faculty advisor on the study. 


[Note: It is unusual that an undergraduate project would meet the definition of “research” as defined earlier in this document for the purposes of human research projects, since for most undergraduate projects the primary intent of the data collection is to obtain a passing grade rather than to obtain data to “develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge”.] 


The RPO website contains the information needed to make the determination as to whether a project meets the human research definition of “research” and, therefore, requires IRB review.  The faculty adviser, in conjunction with the student, will make the final determination regarding applicability.


Research Team

The research team consists of the PI and other individuals, also known as key personnel, who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the protocol.


11.3  Responsibilities

In order to satisfy the requirements of this policy, investigators who conduct research involving human participants must:

  • develop and conduct research that is in accordance with the ethical principles in the Belmont Report;
  • develop a research plan that is scientifically sound and minimizes risk to the participants;
  • have sufficient resources necessary to protect human participants, including:
    • access to a population that would allow recruitment of the required number of participants
    • sufficient time to conduct and complete the research
    • adequate numbers of qualified staff
    • adequate facilities
    • a process to ensure that all persons assisting with the research are adequately informed about the protocol and their research-related duties and functions
    • availability of medical or psychological resources that participants might require as a consequence of the research
  • protect the rights and welfare of prospective participants;
  • have plans to monitor the data collected for the safety of research participants;
  • have a procedure to receive complaints or requests for additional information from participants and respond appropriately;
  • ensure that pertinent laws, regulations, and institution procedures and guidelines are observed by participating investigators and research staff;
  • obtain and document informed consent as required by the IRB ensuring that no participant is involved in the research prior to obtaining their consent, as required by the approved protocol;
  • ensure that all research involving human participants receives IRB review and approval in writing before commencement of the research;
  • comply with all IRB decisions, conditions, and requirements;
  • ensure that protocols receive timely continuing IRB review and approval;
  • report unexpected or serious adverse event problems that require prompt reporting to the IRB (see Section 7);
  • obtain IRB review and approval in writing before changes are made to approved protocols or consent forms; and
  • seek IRB assistance when in doubt about whether proposed research requires IRB review;


11.4 Training / Ongoing Education of Investigators and Research Team

As stated above, one component of a comprehensive human research protection program is an education program for all individuals involved with research participants. Brown University is committed to providing training and an on-going educational process for investigators and members of their research team related to ethical concerns and regulatory and institutional requirements for the protection of human participants.


11.4.1 Orientation

All Principal Investigators and members of their research team (also known as “key personnel”) must review core training documentation including the “Brown University HRPP Policy and Procedures Manual,” and the “Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Participants of Research.”


11.4.2 Initial Education

The PI and all applicable research personnel must complete the Brown University CITI Program in the Protection of Human Research Participants.


Research personnel include principal investigators, co-investigators, faculty advisors for student investigators, research assistants, and any research team members who have contact with research participants and/or their research data and identifiers.


New research protocols and applications for continuing review will not receive IRB approval until principal investigators have successfully completed the initial education requirement (or the continuing education requirement once the initial education requirement has been satisfied).


While research protocols and applications for continuing review will be accepted and reviewed if the Principal Investigator does not hold a current certification of training, final approval will not be granted until the PI has completed the initial education requirement (or the continuing education requirement once the initial education requirement has been satisfied).


11.4.3 Continuing Education and Recertification

All investigators and applicable research personnel must meet Brown University continuing education requirement every three(3) years after certification of initial education for as long as they are involved in human research.  Acceptable training includes review of appropriate modules at the CITI web-based training site.


Investigators who are also IRB Chair, IRB members, or RPO staff will satisfy the training requirements for IRB members and staff described in this policy.


11.4.4 Additional Resources

Human research protection information will be made available on the RPO website on an ongoing basis to ensure that the University research community is apprised of current regulatory and policy requirements and training opportunities.

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