What is IRB, and when is IRB needed?

The charge of the IRB is to weigh risks and benefits of participation in research and to protect the rights and welfare of the research participants.

All “research” involving human participants must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to beginning the research. When the answer is “yes” to all of the following questions, you are conducting research:


  1. Was information collected in a systematic manner (i.e., according to a pre-determined set of rules)?
  2. Will information be used to draw conclusions about a general principle or question? (Conclusions must be directly drawn from the collected information – speculation not directly drawn from the collected information would not be considered generalizable.) 
  3. Will the information be disseminated beyond the immediate setting in which it was collected (e.g., a school or a laboratory)?

The determination to submit a project for IRB review is made by the faculty member, who is the principal investigator of the project. If a faculty member has determined that a project does meet the Federal definition, it is submitted to the Office of Research Integrity. The IRB will then review and classify the project into one of three categories: “exempt”, “expedited”, or “full review”.


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