Policy

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The mission of the Southwestern University (SU) Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to evaluate SU faculty, staff, and student research proposals to ensure that human participants are treated with respect and safety and that their rights are protected, following the federal guidelines set forth in the US Department of Health and Human Services’ “Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 Part 46: Protection of Human Subjects

Southwestern University holds a Federalwide Assurance (FWA) #27279, approved by the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). Expiration date: 09/05/23.

THE IRB COMMITTEE

Committee Members for 2018-2019 include:

  • Maria Lowe (Co-Chair), Department of Sociology & Anthropology
  • Natasha Williams (Co-Chair), Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness
  • Abby Dings, Department of Modern Languages & Literature
  • Katie Grooms, Department of Economics & Business
  • Ed Merritt, Department of Kinesiology
  • Marilee Parsons, external community member
  • Carin Perilloux, Department of Psychology
WHO MUST SUBMIT THEIR PROPOSALS?

With a few exceptions, anyone conducting academic or administrative research with human participants (including research where human tissues or cells will be collected or analyzed) must submit proposals to the IRB. For IRB purposes, research projects include not only standard faculty research but also class research projects, research abroad, student-led independent studies and capstone research, and administrative research. Examples of research methodologies include (but are not limited to) experiments, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, participant/informant observations, interventions, and program evaluations.      IRB Submission Decision Tree.

WHAT ARE THE IRB DEADLINES FOR THE ACADEMIC YEAR?

The IRB committee regularly reviews proposals during the fall and spring semesters (rolling deadlines for expedited reviews; on the 1st and 15th of each month for full reviews), and does not typically review proposals after the last day of classes in the spring and prior to matriculation convocation in the fall; therefore, researchers should make appropriate plans. Usually, the first committee meeting of the academic year is during the first week of the fall semester.

During the fall and spring semesters, the IRB Committee will meet to discuss proposals that require a full review. For proposals submitted by the 1st of the month, the committee will ideally meet between the 8th-10th. For proposals submitted by the 15th of the month, the committee will ideally meet between the 23rd-25th. Proposal authors will be invited - but not required - to attend full board reviews in case the committee has any questions while they discuss the proposal. Proposal authors will not be present during the committee’s vote.

 *****Policy for Summer Reviews of Modification Proposals*****

The Southwestern University IRB does not review new proposals during the summer (after the last day of classes in the spring semester and before matriculation convocation in the fall semester). However, the IRB will review modifications to previously approved proposals that allow Principal Investigators (PIs) and/or their students to continue conducting research during the summer months. These modification proposals must meet the following requirements:

  • Only modifications that are essential to continue data collection during the summer may be submitted.
  • Only modifications that do not require a full board review may be submitted.

See “Proposal Modifications and Extensions Procedures” for additional information. 

MAJOR CATEGORIES OF IRB PROPOSALS

1. FACULTY OR STAFF RESEARCH WITH OR WITHOUT STUDENT COLLABORATORS

All faculty or staff research projects that meet the definition of human subjects research must be approved by the IRB before any recruitment or data collection can begin. 

2. CLASS RESEARCH PROJECTS

If class research projects involve human subjects research and are presented outside of the classroom, including capstone and Student Works Symposium presentations, they must go through the IRB process.

If class research projects involve human subjects and expose participants to greater than minimal risk, involve vulnerable populations (prisoners, pregnant women, people under 18 years of age, or other vulnerable groups), or involve sensitive information (such as sexual activity, drug use, illegal behaviors, etc.), they must go through the IRB process.

All faculty members who assign class research projects on human subjects are expected to comply with ethical requirements even when it is determined that they are not required to submit a proposal to the IRB (minimal harm and research is not presented outside of the classroom).

3. STUDENT RESEARCH ABROAD
When Southwestern University students study abroad and conduct research on people, they are required to go through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval process. To make sure that the research students conduct while abroad meets the Southwestern University Institutional Review Board guidelines, please read through the IRB policy for Student Research Abroad. 

4. MODIFICATIONS AND EXTENSIONS OF PREVIOUSLY-APPROVED RESEARCH (INCLUDING CLASS PROJECTS)

See Modifications and Extensions guidelines for additional information.

5. PROJECTS APPROVED BY IRBS FROM OTHER INSTITUTIONS

If any Southwestern faculty, staff or students intend to be involved as researchers on the project (i.e. participating in data analysis, study design, etc.), they can submit the IRB materials and approval from the other institution to irb@southwestern.edu . The IRB co-chairs will determine if the materials are sufficient for Southwestern approval or if a Southwestern IRB proposal is needed.
At this time, outside researchers who would like to recruit members of the Southwestern community for a research project but do not have Southwestern faculty or staff involved as researchers on the project (i.e. not participating in data analysis, study design, etc.), may not do so. The Southwestern IRB will be revisiting this policy shortly.

QUESTIONS?

If you have questions about how to complete the form or are unsure about whether your project requires submission, contact the IRB at irb@southwestern.edu