Why Submit Proposals to the IRB?
The IRB at Spelman College exists for reasons both moral and practical. While no reputable researcher would ever intentionally violate the rights of other human beings, it is difficult to anticipate the full range of ethical issues that may arise in the course of a research project.
The IRB is a group of colleagues who are committed to helping ensure that proper safeguards are in place. But the IRB is also a government requirement: in order to earn a “Federal Assurance Number” entitling Spelman researchers to apply for certain government grants, the IRB must review all Spelman-affiliated research involving human research regardless of setting or funding source.
Thus, by submitting a proposal to the Spelman IRB, a researcher not only receives assistance in protecting the rights of research participants including, but not limited to, members of the Spelman community but also helps ensure the eligibility of Spelman College to compete for government grants.
Who Must Submit Proposals to the IRB?
All researchers, including students, intending to work with human subjects must submit an application to and receive authorization from the IRB prior to the start of research activities.
Defining Human Research
Human Subject Research includes, but is not limited to: field observation, focus groups, structured or semi-structured interviews, surveys or questionnaires, research utilization of confidential administrative data (e.g. government data such as individual level welfare data or college data such as student grades), experiments requiring live human participants, and experiments utilizing human tissue. Adding human subjects to an existing research project also requires IRB approval (in accordance with 45 CFR §46.119).
All human subject studies are subject to IRB review regardless of the purpose, extent, context, or source of funding for the study. This includes class projects, experiments conducted within the class setting, and studies that do not receive any external funding. All research (funded and non-funded) projects that are being conducted AT Spelman College or BY Spelman College personnel must undergo IRB review. This means, any researcher (students, full-time faculty members, adjunct faculty members, and staff members) conducting research on human participants, and who 1) either is directly affiliated with Spelman College, and/or 2) is conducting research at Spelman College. Research that is conducted outside of Spelman’s campus (e.g. at another campus, or in a public location), must receive Spelman IRB approval due to the researcher’s affiliation with the College (and may also need IRB approval from another institution).
Researchers From Other Institutions
Researchers from other institutions wishing to conduct studies with Spelman College students, faculty or staff as primary participants must submit an application to the Spelman College IRB even if an IRB review was completed at their home institution (in accordance with Protection of Human Subjects, 45 CFR §46.114). In fact, the external researcher must obtain IRB approval from their home institution before applying to Spelman’s IRB. Such researchers must submit an online Unaffiliated Investigator Agreement Form with the application for IRB review and obtain a Spelman College research sponsor (must be a multi-year or tenure/tenure-track faculty member, or “appropriate supervisory staff member”), who will share responsibility for the conduct of research on campus. In addition, the outside investigator must submit proof of approval (or conditional approval) from the IRB of that researcher’s home institution. If the other IRB chooses to waive its review and abide by Spelman’s review, a IRB Waiver Agreement must be completed and filed before the study begins.
Students and faculty sometimes conduct research at international locations. When conducting research abroad, appropriate approval from a Human Subjects Review Board should be obtained from the host institution or governing body. A copy of that approval should be submitted to the Spelman IRB at IRB@spelman.edu. Such documentation will be necessary to present at Spelman College’s Research Day or any other venue for data presentation or publication. If the host institution does not have a human subjects review process, then the investigator must submit a proposal to the Spelman College IRB for approval before data collection begins. Investigators are encouraged to plan their research experiences appropriately. (Please see the attached IRB Policies and Procedures document for more details.)
The Spelman College IRB requires electronic submissions.
Submit a New Proposal | IRB Unaffiliated Investigator Form