What Needs IRB Review?

In its everyday usage, "research" might be used to consider a wide range of activities: reviews of academic scholarship, looking scholarship up in a library or archive, observing a particular phenomenon or setting, among many others. The IRB's role is outlined by Federal Policy on the Protection of Human Subjects (45 C.F.R. 46), meaning the IRB is concerned with research that involves human participants. Therefore, the IRB is not responsible for all forms of scholarship that may take place on the SUU campus. However, situations arise on a university campus that lead to questions about when the IRB should be involved in research activities, and when it should not be. This page aims to address some of these questions.

When Is IRB Review Needed?

Generally, an IRB proposal should be submitted when:

  • You (and/or colleagues or students of yours) are obtaining data from human participants;
  • You are completing a master's thesis in which you are obtaining data from human participants.
  • Your (and/or colleagues or students of yours) intend to share findings from data obtained from human participants beyond a class setting, including Festival of Excellence, an academic conference, or a journal article.

When Is IRB Review NOT Needed?

  • You (and/or colleagues or students) are obtaining data from human participants solely for the purposes of class activities and will not share this data beyond class.
  • You (and/or colleagues or students) are obtaining data about specific individuals, such as an interview about someone.
  • You (and/or colleagues or students) are conducting research activities that do not involve human participants.

What If Researchers Have Questions?

If you are unsure about IRB review--including if you encounter situations not addressed by this page--contact the IRB by emailing irb@suu.edu. The IRB ultimately determines whether a project is human subject research.

Keep in mind that 45 C.F.R. 46 does not include provisions for "retroactive approval." In order to conduct human subject research, you must obtain approval prior to recruiting participants or collecting data.