Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Independent Student Research

Generally, student research involving human subjects falls into one of two categories:

  • directed or independent research projects which employ systematic data collection with human subjects with the intent to contribute to generalizable knowledge. For example, honors theses or undergraduate research intended for publication or wide dissemination such as a web page or presentation outside of the classroom i.e., at a conference or poster session.
  • research projects or exercises that are part of a course of study whose goal is to provide the student with training and/or experience with research methodologies characteristic of the particular discipline. These may entail projects in which other people are interviewed, observed or otherwise serve as participants.

Research projects in the first category require IRB approval, while those in the second do not if the following conditions pertain:

The project involves minimal risk to subjects (i.e., when the risks of harm anticipated in the proposed research are not greater than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests).

The project does not involve sensitive topics or confidential information that could place a participant at risk if disclosed.

The project does not involve persons from vulnerable populations as participants (e.g. children under the age of 18, mentally disabled, prisoners).

The project must involve the voluntary participation of individuals without any coercion or pressure being placed upon them by the researcher. Though not required, it is recommended that instructors/students consider providing a consent document to participants and fully informing them of the research they will be taking part in.

The results of the project will not be distributed outside the classroom and/or institutional setting or used for publication, although the results may be presented to instructors or peers for educational purposes or as part of a class assignment. If the possibility exists that either the instructor or the student would consider disseminating the data as generalizable knowledge, the research must be submitted for IRB review.