Frequently Asked Questions
Human participants are defined as living individuals about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual; or obtains data through identifiable private information. A researcher is considered to be using human participants when any of the following or similar conditions are met:
- Individuals are asked to complete questionnaires, participate in interviews, or whose behavior is observed in daily activities
- Oral history interviewees are studied to get their subjective impressions
- Students and teachers are observed in the classroom for the study of various teaching methods or development of curricula
- A researcher asks for data on students or staff from the Office of Institutional and Research Effectiveness at Blinn College
If you are doing research that involves people, then you should submit your project for review to the Blinn College IRB. You might ask yourself if you are planning on:
- presenting the data of my project(if it included human participants) at an academic conference?
- publishing the data in an academic journal?
- using the research data in a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation?
If you answered YES to any of the above, your project is considered research and requires IRB review. If you answered NO to all of the above, your project is probably not considered research and will not require IRB review.
If no public dissemination is planned at the time the data is gathered, but the possibility of future dissemination exists, you are advised to submit the project for IRB review and approval before research begins.
Certain activities have the characteristics of research but do not meet the regulatory definition of research needing IRB review. For example:
- Data collected for internal departmental, school, or other administrative purposes (e.g. teaching evaluations, course evaluations)
- Class project or term paper that will not be published in any form at any time
- Reviews and searches of existing literature and research involving a living individual, such as a biography, that is not generalizable beyond that individual
If ALL of the following criteria are met then IRB review is NOT required on the classroom project.
- The project is limited to surveys, questionnaires, interviews, observations of public behavior directly related to topics being studied in an official college course; AND
- The above surveys, etc. contain no sensitive personal questions or other personal information that could stigmatize an individual; AND
- No identifying information is recorded to link a person with the data such that it could reasonably harm the individual’s reputation, employability, financial standing, or place the person at risk for criminal or civil liability; AND
- The participants in the project are not from a vulnerable or special population; AND
- The collected data does not leave the classroom setting, or if the project involves collecting data on an organization, agency or company, the data is shared only within that entity; AND
- No Blinn College employee or student receives financial compensation for collecting, organizing, analyzing or reporting the data.
Your project will require IRB notification and formal IRB approval if you do not meet ALL of the above requirements.
The following are examples of projects that require IRB notification but may be exempt from a full IRB review, referred to as an expedited review. A completed Research Application Form must be submitted to the IRB prior to the start of such project since the decision on the expedited review process is the sole responsibility of the IRB committee.
Research projects that might qualify for expedited review include
- The study of or comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods.
- The use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of public behavior, so long as no participant will be under the age of 18.
- The collection or study of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens, if these sources are publicly available or the information is collected in a way that cannot be linked either directly or through identifiers to an individual.
No research may be conducted prior to receiving approval from the IRB. Any unapproved or conditionally approved research proposals will be presented in writing to the investigator along with any recommendations or suggestions.
Depending on your research design, you may need to submit:
- Informed Consent Form (first page on letterhead of organization sponsoring study)
- Surveys, questionnaires, or other data gathering forms
- Any disclosures explaining risks or procedures
- Letters of approval from cooperating entities
- Any approvals or documentation from external IRBs
- Letters, flyers, questionnaires distributed to participants or posted to recruit
- Notice of Intent is required, along with evidence that the form has been delivered to the researcher’s Academic Dean
Principal Investigators are also required to submit a Human Subject Protection Training certificate with their application. NIH offers a 1-2 hour online training course, which can be found at http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php. Applications without training certificates will not be reviewed until the training is complete. Training from NIH must be renewed every year, so please be sure your certificate is up-to-date.