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Institutional Review Board
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Determining if IRB Approval is Required for a Project

Any project that meets the federal definition of research and uses human subjects must have IRB approval prior to data collection.

For the purpose of IRB review, research is defined as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities which meet this definition constitute research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program which is considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration and service programs may include research activities.

Likewise, human subject is defined as a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) Data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) Identifiable private information.

What this means is that if your project uses human subjects and you intend on presenting your data in some sort of public venue (e.g., conference presentations, publication), federal guidelines require that your project be approved by the IRB before data collection.

If you are still unsure about a specific project, contact the IRB Chair for assistance.

This page was last updated by Ryan Martin, July 2, 2010