Frequently Asked Questions about Human Subject Research

  1. How do I know if my research requires submission of an IRB application?
    All human subject research requires IRB approval. Questions about whether to appeal to the IRB or about application procedures should be directed to the SUNY Schenectady IRB Chair at: roggowmj@sunysccc.edu.
  3. When should I submit my review request to the IRB?
    Researchers should submit application materials for IRB approval as soon as possible. Approval must be received before any research activities may begin (recruitment or data collection). The review process may take several weeks and usually depends upon the comprehensiveness of the application. To insure timely review, it is recommended that applicants carefully read the SUNY Schenectady Submission Guidelines and complete the appropriate application.
  5. What is informed consent?
    Informed Consent is given by individual(s) participating in a research project who are fully aware of any risks involved, and probable consequences. Informed consent is obtained through a document that fully discloses the nature of the research, explains the risks (both physical and psychological) and benefits, and allows the individual to voluntarily decide whether or not to participate in a research study.
  7. What is the difference between anonymous and confidential?
    Anonymous means that the data collected by the researcher cannot be linked to the participant. Confidential means that the researcher might be able to identify a participant's data but will not reveal the participant's identity to anyone else. Person-to-person interviews, for example, are never anonymous.
  9. Can the IRB stop me from conducting my research?
    Yes. The IRB has the authority to disapprove, suspend, or terminate research that is not carried out according to its requirements or may be associated with unexpected serious harm to subjects. Any such action will include a statement of the IRB's reasons for its action and will be reported in writing to the Project Director.
  11. My research with human subjects is not funded. Do I still have to submit an application to the IRB?
    Yes. All research that involves human subject/participants must be reviewed and approved by the IRB regardless of funding.
  13. Who is responsible for reporting any problems that may occur during the conduct of approved human subject research activities?
    Project Directors are responsible for reporting to the IRB Chair any serious or continuing noncompliance with federal regulations, College policies, injury to subjects, unanticipated problems, or changes in research activities. While the Project Director assumes this responsibility, anyone who becomes aware of any serious or continuing noncompliance in the conduct of approved research should bring this to the attention of the IRB Chair.
  15. Does the IRB continue to review research once it has been approved?
    Yes. The Board conducts annual/continuing reviews of applications at one year intervals for Expedited or Full Review projects that continue for longer than one year. For projects with higher risk, the review may be more frequent. Exempt status applications do not require any further action unless there is a change in the research that changes the exempt status.
  17. If I make changes in my protocol, does the IRB have to review and approve it again?
    Yes. Any changes must be reviewed and approved by the IRB. In most cases, this can be done quickly through the Expedited Review process or by approval from the IRB Chair or designated representative.
  19. How can I speed my application through the IRB?
    Carefully review SUNY Schenectady’sIRB webpage, and complete each section of the application completely. 
  21. What training is provided for Project Directors?
    Information sessions and training are provided for faculty, staff, and students at SUNY Schenectady. Please refer to SUNY Schenectady’s IRB webpage for more information.
  23. Is IRB approval required for research that is conducted by students and involves human subjects?
    Yes. If student research meets the definition of research and involves human subjects, it must be approved by the IRB. Students who want to apply for IRB approval should apply as a project co-director with the faculty member who oversees their academic work.
  25. Is my classroom research considered research?
    If your classroom research is used only to evaluate teaching methods and student opinions, to evaluate classroom activities, or to gain feedback on student learning, then you do not have to apply to the IRB for approval. If you intend to make your results public, then it is considered research and you do need IRB approval.
  27. Is assessment of teaching and learning considered research?
    Research involves manipulation of the environment, is always voluntary, uses systematic data collection, requires informed consent, and contributes to generalizable knowledge. Assessment provides institutions with information about students' progress towards educational goals. Assessment activities that contribute to generalizable knowledge by being publicly available is research and is considered a commonly accepted educational practice which is usually exempt from IRB oversight. Exempt status requires a short IRB form that must be approved before the assessment work begins. Exemption means the work is not overseen by the IRB (after it is determined the work is exempt). Assessment work that is not made public does not need to be reviewed by the IRB.
  29. I'm collecting samples of student work for assessment of my course. Do I need to submit an application to the IRB?
    Assessment work that will not be made publicly available does not need to be reviewed by the IRB.