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Welcome to the Colorado College IRB web page. The below information should be reviewed in the order in which it appears for greatest effectiveness.

CC IRB closes June 1-15 annually. Please plan accordingly. Proposals are reviewed and questions answered year-round except for these two weeks. If you plan to carry out summer research for which IRB approval might be needed, please submit your proposals in Block 8 or between Commencement and the beginning of June, bearing in mind that a proposal might need several days for approval.

SAVE TIME AND EFFORT! YOU MAY NOT NEED TO FILL OUT A COMPLETE IRB FORM! Many student projects are exempt from IRB review because they involve only certain types of research, have only adult participants, and are harmless. You the researcher cannot determine whether your project is exempt, but the IRB has created a new, simple form to help us determine whether your project requires IRB review. Fill this out and email it as directed. No faculty involvement is required.

EDUCATION MAJORS: YOU NOW HAVE YOUR OWN EXEMPTION FORM! If you have been using the MAT exemption form you may now use this form instead to request an educational exemption for your major-related research.

INFORMATION ABOUT RESEARCH NOT REQUIRING IRB REVIEW, VENTURE GRANTS AND INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH HAS MOVED: There are new pages describing research that can be carried out without IRB review as well as for IRB-related Venture Grant information and IRB-related international research information.

NO IRB APPROVAL IF RESEARCH HAS BEGUN: The IRB will not, under any circumstances, approve a project for which the research has already been carried out. Proposals must be approved before research can begin.

LANGUAGE FOR FACULTY EMAIL OF APPROVAL: There is specific language to be used by faculty members in their emails of approval for student projects. The language is on the first page of the application. Faculty members must use this language in order for students to have their proposals reviewed. Faculty members, please take note, and students, please let your advisors know about the change.

The IRB Application

The Social Science Research Exemption Determination Form

The MAT Educational Research Exemption Determination Form

The Education Major Research Exemption Determination Form

Please be aware that your proposal will NOT be reviewed if it is missing any of the following elements:

  • Faculty sponsor's email of approval (unless it is a Venture Grant project that is NOT for a thesis; those are reviewed without faculty sponsor input. If your Venture Grant will be used to collect senior thesis data, your thesis advisor does need to approve the IRB proposal)
  • A debriefing form or script if you will be using deception (most common in psychology and marketing studies)
  • Your consent form or script, built using one of the templates on the consent forms page
  • Your interview questions, survey instrument, experiment process, or other materials showing clearly what the participant will encounter and what they will do
  • An answer to the question of how you would report an incident of harm of one occurred. Please be aware that you need to answer this question even if you are sure no harm will occur. A typical and good answer is that you would report an incident of harm to your advisor and to the chair of the IRB.

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What kinds of projects get approved most quickly and easily?

  • Those that do not put participants at more than minimal risk of physical, legal, financial, employment, reputational, emotional/psychological, or any other kind of harm; projects with low risk levels of harm can be approved but the less potential for harm, the easier the approval
  • Those that only involve adults (people 18 or over)
  • Those that only involve people who are completely free and able to refuse participation in your research (so not people under 18, prisoners, undocumented immigrants, people with developmental disabilities, or members of politically disadvantaged groups)
  • Those with well-designed processes to gain consent of participants
  • Those that only use the following research methods: educational tests, questionnaires/surveys, interviews, focus groups, non-participant observation, or collection of data from voice, video, digital, or image recordings
  • Those in which the research focuses on individual or group characteristics or behavior (e.g. perception, cognition, motivation, identity, language, communication, cultural beliefs/practices, or social behavior)
  • Those that take place in educational settings and that focus on normal educational practices
  • Those that involve the study of already collected data, documents, or records that are publicly available
  • Those in which individual participants cannot be identified by name or, if they can, being identified does not put them at risk of harm
  • Those that, if an organization is the topic of study, have already been approved by the organization in question

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What is meant by minimal risk of harm?

  • The probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater than the harm or discomfort ordinarily encountered in daily life or while taking routine physical or psychological tests. 
  • For example, an interview study that addresses past experiences of depression is within the category of minimal risk if the questions are expected to cause no more harm than would a session with one’s therapist or counselor

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What is meant by a “well-designed process to gain consent of participants”?

  • An appropriate consent process must include:
    • Voluntariness (the complete freedom of the participant to refuse to participate if they want),
    • Information (about the research, provided on the consent form), and
    • Comprehension (the consent form is written in language the participant can understand fully so that they are completely capable of deciding whether or not to participate)
  • A process that uses either:
    • An appropriate consent form for participants who can read and sign their names, or
    • A verbal consent script in the participant’s native language for participants who cannot read and sign their names (or who, for cultural reasons, would not do so, such as participants in some tribal or ethnic groups)
  • In cases where photography or videotaping will be used, a release form for use of photograph/videotape
  • Information about laws relating to consent, as well as a variety of consent form templates, can be found in the consent section of the IRB website.

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Submitting Your IRB Proposal

Complete proposals including copies of data collection instruments, consent forms, and a confirming email from your faculty sponsor are due VIA EMAIL to the Chair of the IRB when they are fully prepared, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis during the entire year (including the summer, though please note that summer review may take longer).  You will be notified about the IRB decision regarding your proposal within several days of submitting your proposal.  A turnaround of one to two days is not unusual but cannot be guaranteed.

The best way for researchers to make sure they have enough time to go through the application, receive approval, and still have time to do research is to do an exemplary job of filling out the application (see the tips link above) and to send the proposal in as early as possible.

Please treat initial contact with the IRB chair in a formal and professional manner, as you would the cover letter you sent along with a job application. Sending an extremely casual or informal email to the IRB chair signals that you may be equally casual about your obligations to the participants in your study. Unless you know the chair personally, please do not begin your email "Hey, Amanda" or in other equally informal ways.

Please note that the IRB is instituting a new policy about the timing of Venture Grant-related IRB proposals. The IRB must receive IRB proposals tied to Venture Grant applications by 5 pm the final Wednesday of the block before the Venture Grant proposal will be turned in. In the past, it was acceptable to turn in an IRB proposal and a Venture Grant proposal simultaneously. Now students must complete the IRB process first. If the Dean's Advisory Committee does not have evidence of a student's approved IRB proposal when they review the Venture Grant application, the Venture Grant application will be tabled until the following month. Also please note that all inquiries about whether a Venture Grant project is exempt from IRB review must similarly be received NO LATER THAN 5 pm of the final Wednesday of the block before the Venture Grant proposal will be turned in. This deadline is strongly recommended beginning at the end of block 7 of the 2012-2013 academic year, and will become a requirement during block 1 of the 2013-2014 academic year.