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Steps in IRB Submission and Review

  1. Determine whether your research needs IRB review.
    1. Determine whether your project meets the definition of research. If your project does not meet the definition of research, you do not need to submit an IRB proposal.
    2. Some projects require expedited review (i.e., review by only one or two IRB members); others require full or convened review (i.e., review by all members of the IRB). The specific review procedure a project must undergo depends on its type and its level-of-review characteristics, as described on the Whitman IRB webpage. Project investigators (or advisors for student projects) are encouraged to contact any member of the Whitman College IRB for help in identifying the appropriate project type, level-of-review characteristics, and review procedures for their projects.
  1. Before submitting your IRB proposal:
    1. Complete any required ethics training (see CITI Training Information).
    2. Discuss your research with your faculty sponsor or research advisor.
    3. Thoroughly review all relevant parts of the IRB's website.
  1. Complete the IRB form and gather/finalize all required materials.
    1. Download and complete the IRB form (opens in new tab, available as a fillable PDF document).
    2. Finalize other required materials, including:
      1. Consent form(s), if needed
      2. Research instruments, including surveys, questionnaires, debriefing forms, list of interview topics, etc.
      3. Statements of support from affiliated organizations, if needed (as described on the IRB form)
    3. Student submitters: In the case of student protocols, the faculty sponsor and the student share responsibility for adherence to policies. The faculty sponsor must review this form and all required materials before submission. The faculty sponsor should add their name and the date to the IRB Form (last page) indicating that they have reviewed the proposal and approve of sending it to the IRB for review. The IRB will include the faculty sponsor on all email correspondence related to student proposals.
    4. Submit your IRB proposal through this Google Form. Make sure all files are clearly named with the last name of the principal researcher.
  1. IRB Review
    Reminder to all researchers: You may not begin your research until you receive approval from the IRB.
    1. The IRB chair will review the proposal to evaluate whether it requires full board review or qualifies for exempt/expedited review. Learn more about research categories.
    2. For student proposals: The IRB will contact the faculty sponsor to ensure that they support the research and that the student discussed the proposal with them ahead of time.
    3. Full Board Review
      1. The full IRB committee convenes once per month to discuss proposals requiring full board review. Those meetings are typically the first Friday of each month at 9 a.m. See the current schedule. For a proposal to be discussed at a Full Board Review meeting, it must be submitted by 5 p.m. the previous Friday.
    4. Exempt or Expedited Review
      1. IRB proposals not requiring full board review are reviewed on a rolling basis by one or two members of the IRB committee.
      2. Initial review is typically completed within two weeks.
    5. Revisions
      1. If the IRB requests revisions to your proposal, they will notify you of their questions or comments via email and invite you to resubmit your materials for further review. Submit these revised materials directly to the IRB chair at irb_chair@whitman.edu.
      2. The IRB will review your revisions promptly, typically within one week. This process may repeat itself until the IRB has no further questions or comments.
    6. Approval
      1. If a proposal receives IRB approval, the IRB Chair will notify the principal researcher via email. The IRB Administrator will send a formal approval letter with an IRB approval number. This letter contains important information about ongoing review and amendments to IRB approval.
  1. IRB Oversight
    1. IRB approval of a project does not end its oversight of the project.
    2. Adverse effects reporting
      1. Any unexpected problems, adverse effects, or harm to participants must be reported to the IRB within 48 hours by emailing irb_chair@whitman.edu.
      2. As a result of these reported problems, adverse effects, or harm to participants, the IRB may withdraw its approval of the project or require the investigator to add additional safeguards for the participants before the study can be resumed. The IRB has the authority to suspend or terminate approval of research that is not being conducted in accordance with the IRB’s decisions, conditions and requirements, or that has been associated with unexpected serious harm to volunteers.
    3. Amendments
      1. Any changes to the research protocol require a formal IRB amendment. This includes but is not limited to changes regarding: study population, risks and benefits, research instruments (e.g., surveys or questionnaires), deception and debriefing practices, incentives, and informed consent documents or practices.
      2. To request an amendment, complete this Google IRB Form. Contact the IRB Chair with any questions at irb_chair@whitman.edu
      3. The IRB chair will evaluate the risks associated with the proposed amendments. If amendments require full board review, they will be discussed at the next full board meeting . If amendments require exempt or expedited review, they will be reviewed within one week.
    4. Renewals
      1. Research that undergoes full board review by the IRB is valid for one year and must be renewed within 12 months.
      2. Researchers needing to renew their full board review should complete the full board renewal form  at least one month prior to their approval expiration date. The IRB will renew these renewal requests on a rolling basis.
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