Institutional Review Board

Attention all faculty, staff or students doing research involving human subjects...

If you or your students want to collect and analyze surveys of information provided by people, wish to carry out classic psychology experiments, are planning systematic testing of teaching or coaching procedures and techniques, or whatever else might involve human subjects, then the Institutional Review Board (IRB) can help you be sure your efforts are ethically appropriate.

Bluffton University’s IRB helps researchers develop projects that meet ethical standards for research involving human subjects. Researchers are required to obtain approval by the IRB of all such projects before they are initiated. The board is mandated to conduct reviews of all research projects involving human subjects, per the dean of academic affairs.

The following links seek to answer the questions "do I need IRB approval?" "how do I ask for approval?" "how complicated is the process?" and "how much time will this take?"

  • Definitions and procedures is a brief introduction to how research on human subjects is defined and how you can apply to the IRB for approval of a project.
  • Research categories is a more systematic description of the types of research that need IRB approval. This description notes that projects are divided into three possible types, based on the level of ethical complexity inherent in a project. Each level gets its own degree of attention from the board.
  • IRB forms contains the certification forms that are required for applications to the IRB concerning proposals for research exempt from further review, research needing expedited review or research requiring full review.

When the IRB receives the set of application materials for an exempt or expedited project it rarely takes more than a few days to receive the approval you need before you can start your research. Not surprisingly, full reviews are more complicated, but we work to be as prompt as possible on these, as well.

This is a very brief introduction, so if and when you have questions or comments feel free to contact any IRB member. These persons are:

Jonathan Andreas (EBA)
Heather Bruder (HPER)
Sarah Cecire (Education)
Deb Myers (FCS)
Todd Rainey (Science)
Alex Sider (History and religion)
Will Slater (Social and behavioral sciences)

Todd Rainey, IRB chair
June 17, 2009