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Research Requiring IRB Review

Human subjects research conducted by ISU faculty, staff, or students must receive approval from the ISU IRB prior to beginning the research. In some cases, such as collaborative work with other institutions, approval may be granted from another IRB.

Human subjects research is defined as a systematic investigation where:

  1. The study is about living individuals.
  2. The researcher obtains either:
    • Data through interaction/intervention with participants, or
    • Identifiable private information or records
  3. The findings from the research are intended to contribute to overall knowledge in the discipline

Researchers must submit these studies for approval by the IRB through Cayuse IRB (now called Human Ethics). The Revised Common Rule includes information on research that no longer requires IRB review. If you are unsure as to whether or not your study meets the definition of human subjects research, please reach out to the Human Subjects Research Specialist. To help guide you, some specific examples of what would not need review is provided below.

Activities Not Requiring IRB Review

Please note that broader use of the activities listed below may require review by the IRB. Additional information on student-led research is also covered in a separate section below.

  • The collection of information when the findings from the activity will not be shared with the public.
  • Research on data that is readily available to the public (most social media, census data, websites, etc.) and the researchers are not interacting or intervening with the people who are providing the data.
  • The analysis of data that: 1) already exists, 2) was not collected for the current study, and 3) does not include identifiers when the data was accessed by the researcher.
  • The analysis of data collected by individuals not affiliated with ISU when the shared data does not include identifiers and the individuals affiliated with ISU did not obtain outside services (survey firms, call centers, etc.) to collect the data for them.
  • Collecting information about a program or service when information about living individuals (opinions, feelings, etc.) is not collected.
  • A traditional biography or oral history that only focuses on specific individuals about whom the data is collected.

Student-Led Research Activities

Certain activities conducted by students to meet course requirements may not require IRB review. It is expected that these activities still follow the spirit of the regulations by informing participants of the nature of the activity and obtaining their agreement to participate. Participants should also be informed that these activities are classroom exercises and not formal research studies.

Students conducting research projects or program assessments that are only intended to meet course requirements can do so without IRB approval under these conditions:

  • Since the projects provide no benefit, they should only be undertaken if there is no more than minimal risk to the participants.
  • The findings will not be shared beyond the classroom or the ISU Graduate or Undergraduate Research Symposia.
  • Participants will not intentionally recruit prisoners, adults who are cognitively impaired or lack decision-making skills, or individuals who otherwise may be subject to coercion or undue influence (e.g. economically or educationally disadvantaged persons).
  • Participants can include children, including children with cognitive disabilities, only if the activity would qualify for exemption under category 1 (normal or special educational practices conducted in an educational setting).

For more information on these terms, please contact

Retroactive approval of data originally collected for research purposes is prohibited by federal regulations. If students desire to use data collected as part of a course requirement beyond the classroom or the Symposium, IRB review and approval must be obtained prior to beginning any human subjects research activities (recruitment, consent, data collection, etc.).

It is recommended that posters and presentations of student research projects not undergoing IRB review include a statement indicating that the project has not been approved by the IRB and is not intended for generalization.

Thesis/Dissertation Research

Student research conducted for thesis and dissertation purposes must be reviewed by the IRB. The student must be named as a co-PI on the IRB protocol.

Other Student-led Research

Capstone projects, DNP projects, and other student-led research may or may not require IRB approval depending on departmental requirements for generalizability. Contact for assistance in determining requirements.

All Student-led Research Requiring IRB Review

Student-led research activities requiring IRB review must have a PI that is either a faculty or staff member at ISU. The responsibilities of the PI include certifying a protocol that is "true, complete, and accurate". This certification checklist should be used by PIs to assist with verifying the protocol is ready for IRB review. Protocols that are incomplete will be returned to the PI without review.