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About IRB (Institutional Review Board)

Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Peter Whiting

What is IRB?

IRB stands for Institutional Review Board. If you are conducting research that involves human participants, you will need to get approval from USI's IRB before you collect your information. The goal of review and approval is to ensure that there is no/minimal risk to participants, and that they are fully aware of their rights under federal regulations. For questions regarding the IRB process contact the USI IRB at

What do I need to do?

You will need to fill out and submit an application available on US's IRB webpage.

Broadly, you should think through your project in each of these aspects, to prepare for your application:

  • Purpose -- why are you doing this study? what do you hope to accomplish?
  • Participants -- who are you asking to participate in this research? are there any vulnerable populations (prisoners, children, mentally/cognitively disabled, pregnant women, economically/educationally disadvantaged)? what negative consequences might occur as a result of participation, and how will you protect against these?
  • Procedure -- what are you asking participants to do? if you are interviewing participants, what are you asking them about? are there any sensitive or potentially damaging aspects to your inquiries/observations?
  • Power -- how will you obtain informed consent? how will you ensure that participants are able to review their own contributions and control their privacy?

You will also need to complete human subjects training, which can be done online at the USI Institutional Review Board (IRB)..

What does the process look like?

After you apply, the Initial Reviewer will assign a category to your application:: 

Exempt (no foreseeable risk)

Expedited Review (minimal risk)

Full Board Review (more than minimal risk and protected subjects).

Most research projects will likely be Exempt, in which case it requires no further review. Expedited Review projects are forwarded to the Expedited Reviewer. Full Board Review projects require the most time, with the IRB as a whole performing the review.

The USI IRB has more detailed information on the process and components, including links to the required application form and ethics training.