Office of Research Compliance

Does My Project Need IRB Approval?

If your research project involves human subjects, then it most likely requires IRB approval.  However, there are some instances where IRB approval is not needed, and we have provided a few ways you can make that determination:

Examples of projects that generally require IRB approval include:

  • Data collection through intervention or interaction with individuals
  • Private information that can be readily identified with individuals
  • Research that produces generalizeable knowledge about categories or classes of subjects
  • Research using human bodily materials

Examples of projects that generally DO NOT require IRB approval include:

  • Data collection for internal University administrative purposes (teaching, customer service, etc.)
  • Oral histories or biographies (unless data will also be used to contribute to generalizable knowledge)
  • Publicly available data (census data, labor statistics, etc.)

It is always better to err on the side of caution.  Other than the obvious legal implications of performing human subjects research without IRB approval, students could lose class credit and their work might not be accepted, and faculty could lose funding, be denied publication, or have their research suspended.


If you are not sure, contact the Office of Research Compliance.


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