College of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Lessons from IRB 101

The Kennesaw State University Institutional Review Board (IRB) recently launched their new website at

Faculty or students wanting to learn more about the research process should begin by heading to the website to read more information about what is required for the research process. However, if you are looking for the cliff notes about IRB, you are reading the right article (but we would still recommend checking out their website for additional information)!

IRB regulates research involving human subjects. This can be as basic as faculty collecting data from the courses they teach or as complex as researching the medical effects of giving children caffeine every morning. The role of the IRB is to protect the human subjects, the researcher and the university. The Kennesaw State IRB requirements are not arbitrary. Our IRB follows federal mandates for research, which is why they recommend reading the entire federal wide assurance of compliance before submitting potential research proposals and paperwork.

Currently, the IRB application is broken into two parts – exemptions and full reviews. Most research projects fall under the category of exemptions, especially those for educational purposes like collecting students’ art projects to display. Art projects are considered to be data in this case. However, for convenience purposes, the IRB will soon be merging those forms into one IRB application form. You can be looking for that in the fall of 2016. Although, in the meantime, both forms have application tips that provide guidelines for prospective researchers to determine which category their research falls into. If this process is confusing, you can contact, and they will answer your application questions.

If you are a student, this next part is for you. Sadly, students cannot submit IRB applications and cannot email the IRB. All student research must be coordinated by a faculty advisor, who submits the IRB request. We wouldn’t want students “going rogue” with their research, and having the faculty advisor in a role of accountability further protects both the student researcher and the university.

Retroactive research approval cannot be granted. That would be a federal violation. Therefore, faculty, if you are thinking you might like to collect data from your classes or you are playing around with the idea of administering a survey to every student that passes by your office, fill out an IRB application first. Although, you might be hard pressed to get every student passing by your office to fill out a survey because students can rescind consent of participation at any point during the research process. Once you have the approval, you are free to collect the data if you so choose. Federal guidelines require that research data involving human subjects be held for three years.

For the full guidelines, tutorials, applications and much more information, head over to the new IRB website! Research is a way to expand our base of knowledge, and we want as many faculty and students involved in the research process as possible.

Posted: January 28, 2016