INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD FAQ

What are some specific examples of research projects requiring an IRB process?

IRB approval is required on biomedical and behavioral research projects that involve human subjects. The following list contains examples of research projects requiring IRB approval. If you have a question about whether your research project requires IRB approval, please contact us.

  • a survey of college students' political attitudes
  • the neuropsychological impact of concussion in college football players
  • leadership training of U.S. Army athletes via the internet
  • the impact of welfare reform on the economic well-being of former TANF recipients
  • assessing the effectiveness of a one-on-one reading tutoring program in elementary schools
  • survey study of college students' attitudes on abortion
  • a computerized, perceptual vigilance task with school-aged children

Where can I go if I need more information about the IRB?

The IRB operates under the guidance of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. In addition to this site, a video from the Department of Health and Human Services describing the history of the IRB, the Belmont Report, and an example of a protocol under IRB review is available for viewing from the IRB Chairperson.

What is the Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

The IRB is a committee of diverse and qualified individuals that reviews all research conducted by Mercyhurst College faculty, staff, and students using human participants. The goal of the IRB is to ensure that the rights and welfare of any person agreeing to take part in research connected with the college will be safeguarded. The IRB functions under federal guidelines set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services. Anyone doing research with human participants must go through the IRB process before beginning the research.

Who are the members of the IRB?

The IRB is a body of at least five members. Faculty members from Mercyhurst College and professionals from the local community from a wide variety of fields and disciplines make up this committee. Members of the committee have particular knowledge and or experience in the research process. Learn more about the current board members.

How do I ensure the safety and protection of my research participants?

To ensure that research participants are not subjected to undue risk or injury researchers must:

  • design a study that poses no more than minimal risk to participants
  • obtain written, informed consent from participants
  • provide participants with as much information about the study as possible, prior to their involvement
  • give participants the option of discontinuing their participation at any time without penalty
  • debrief participants immediately or as soon as possible after completion of the procedure
  • ensure that information and data pertaining to the participants are kept confidential

What does the IRB process consist of?

Researchers can complete the IRB proposal formon this site. Include any supporting materials (i.e., questionnaires, informed consent and debriefing forms, etc.) with the proposal form. The IRBChairperson then determines what type of review (full or expedited) is required of the submitted proposal. A review is made of the proposal, and the researcher is notified of the outcome. At times, the IRB may ask for additional written information, revisions, or it may invite the researcher to attend an IRB meeting to answer questions about the protocol. Efforts will be made to provide a determination in a timely manner.

What type of research requires an IRB process?

Research that involves laboratory experimentation, field studies, interviews, surveys and questionnaires, and some observational studies must guarantee that participants are protected, and, as such, researchers conducting this type of research are obligated to submit their proposals for review. Archival research that involves using data from existing public records, or research on normal educational practices within a classroom setting are exempt from IRB review. If a researcher is unsure whether or not their research design warrants IRB approval, he/she should contact the IRB Chairperson for guidance.

Note: When external grant money is supplied or when special, protected populations are used (e.g., children, welfare recipients, criminals), then an IRB review is always required.