Federal law requires that all research on human subjects performed by Carleton faculty, students, and staff must receive formal approval in advance of the research activities by the Institutional Review Board. (Researchers who are not formally affiliated with Carleton should contact the IRB chair for further information: Justin London or 507-222-4397.)

1. Start the application process by taking the IRB Quiz, which helps determine whether a formal application is required. This quiz uses the Federal definitions of “research” and “human subjects” to assess whether a particular investigation merits an application to the IRB. Not all investigations qualify as “research” in the Federal definition, nor do all people qualify as “human subjects” in the Federal definition!

If the quiz seems to leave doubt as to whether your study is or is not “research on human subjects,” consult with the IRB chair.

2. Review the “Frequently Asked Questions” page to see if any of its items can shed light on your project and improve your application. Pay particular attention to the item on data security, as many IRB applications are slowed or rejected because the applicant included inadequate plans to secure research data such as subjects’ identities.

3. If an application is necessary:

  1. download a sample application form (which includes the sample Data Security form) for use in organizing your thoughts before you apply online (optional),
  2. download and complete the Consent Form (customizing it for your project!),
  3. draft additional materials integral to the research project, such as
    • interview script
    • sample questionnaire
    • draft survey
    • recruitment/marketing materials

4. After making any necessary changes, upload a full complement of materials through the online application system. Make sure to save a backup copy of all documents for your records!

Students: After submitting your application, your research advisor will receive an email requesting that he or she review the application. Your advisor must review and approve the application before the application can be reviewed by the IRB. Be sure to let your advisor know when you’ve submitted the application and ask him or her to approve it promptly!

5. Wait for the review! During the academic year, IRB applications are distributed to IRB members for review each Thursday. Under normal circumstances, applications are reviewed within a week of that date.

However, if an application is incomplete or if the reviewer needs additional information, the review may take longer. Applicants can help keep the process moving by responding promptly to reviewers’ questions!

Information about the review process can be found on the “What Happens Next?” page.