Institutional Review Board

Institutional Review Board

This section provides a brief introduction for Humanities Students to the Insitutional Review Board and University policy regarding research involving human subjects. 

The following are taken from the guidance document attached below:

The confusion within the Humanities arises not least because some faculty members and students quite reasonably do not know what the IRB Board is, what it does, or how it functions. The Institutional Review Board exists to ensure that, during the course of a research project, the personal welfare and the rights of human subjects are protected. 

For faculty and students working in the humanistic fields, the University’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board (SBS IRB) is the relevant governing entity; the Board reviews the research protocols to assure that the research procedures meet all the federal requirements for protecting research subjects, and to help the researcher establish procedures to minimize the participants’ exposure to physical, psychological, economic, or social risks. 

When it comes to work within humanistic fields of inquiry (including History, for instance), considerable confusion arises from the IRB regulations’ specific definitions of research and human subjects. Research is defined as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” A Human Subject is defined as “a living individual about whom an investigator obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with an individual or (2) obtains identifiable information.” A proposed project requires SBS IRB review only when the project both involves human subjects and constitutes research.

Click here to download a guidance document intended to function as a preliminary guide for Humanities students and faculty to help them determine whether or not a project is subject to review by the University's IRB. Students are encouraged to discuss any questions regarding IRB review with their faculty advisor and the IRB office

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