All University research involving human subjects, animal subjects, radiation materials, recombinant DNA, or biohazardous materials must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate University committee(s) before the research is started. Graduate students are, with the assistance of their advisors, responsible for obtaining the necessary approval for their research. Verification of approval must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies before the student’s master’s Program of Study or doctoral Application for Candidacy can be approved. For further information, contact the School of Graduate Studies or the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Research Involving Human Participants
The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the campus organization responsible for protecting the rights and welfare of human participants recruited to participate in studies conducted by researchers affiliated with Utah State University. This office (located in the Military Science Building, room 214A) reviews research to ensure compliance with federal regulations and ethical principles, so that scientific funding and activities can
continue at USU.
Whenever faculty members or students conduct research involving human participants, they must submit their research proposal for review by the IRB. Some research is considered exempt from full-board IRB review and can be approved more quickly; however, this type of research must still be submitted to the IRB. When developing research projects, faculty and students should consider the following guidelines to ensure projects receive a quick turn-around from the IRB.
1. If a survey is being conducted, the student researcher and/or the survey instrument itself should explain to participants: (1) that it is a survey; (2) what the survey is about; (3) about how long it will take to complete; and (4) how the information will be used.
2. Survey topics should be kept relatively innocuous. For example, a survey about how often homeowners water their lawns would be innocuous, while a survey about their involvement with illicit drugs would not.
3. Keep all information on the survey anonymous. This means it should contain no identifying information, such as a code number, name, birthdate, or address. If there is a need for follow-up with the participants, so that the survey requires a code number, the data must be kept confidential (this is not the same as anonymous), and the surveys and code numbers must be kept separate and in a secure place at all times. Since this is very hard to do in a class situation, the IRB recommends sticking to anonymous, one-phase study designs.
4. Research involving public officials, in which the research asks the official only about his or her job, is exempt from full IRB Board review. However, an IRB application must still be submitted.
5. Researchers must interview, observe, and/or experiment only with persons over the age of 18.
6. If observational research is done in a public place (e.g., elevator, laundromat, grocery store, biology classroom, public park, hallway of the Taggart Student Center, etc.), the research will be classified as exempt from full IRB Board review. This means no video or audio taping. However, an IRB application must still be submitted.
7. Research done on the Internet may or may not be considered public. Since many listserves consider themselves private, it is best to ask permission of the listserve group or Internet community researchers are observing.
8. The IRB recommends that course research assignments involving the study of human participants be submitted to the IRB prior to the beginning of classes, so that any potential problems can be identified in a timely manner, and approvals can be granted before students begin work on their project.
For application materials and information about the IRB approval process, visit: www.usu.edu/research/irb/