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Human Subjects Research

IRB Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

1. What's an IRB? more >

2. How do I know if I'm conducting research with human subjects? more >

3. My research will be done in another state (or country). Do I have to obtain IRB review and approval? more >

4.  If I have approval to conduct research involving human subjects from another IRB, do I still need to get approval at NIU? more >

5. Do projects conducted by NIU students need IRB review? more >

6. Is it true that I need IRB review even if I am not doing an "experiment", but I am only conducting interviews or surveys, using secondary data, or simply observing people? more >

7. The “unit of analysis” for my study is an entire community (or village, culture, ethnic group, etc.).  Do I still need to obtain the consent of each individual? more >

The Review Process

8. What do I need to include with my application? more >

9. What is an Authorized Departmental Reviewer (ADR)? more >

10. Who is my Authorized Departmental Reviewer? more >

11. May I begin data collection once my department has reviewed my protocol? more >

12. What do I do with my application once it has all of the signatures? more >

13. How long will it take for me to obtain approval to do my study? more >

14. I've heard that the Federal regulations consider certain categories of research to be exempt. If my research fits into one of these categories, does this mean that I don't have to have it reviewed by the IRB? more >

15. How will I know if my study has been approved? more >

Informed Consent Questions

16. Do I always have to obtain the informed consent of the research participants? more >

17. Do research participants always have to sign an informed consent document? more >

18. Does the IRB need copies of translated consent documents for studies done on non-English speaking populations? more >

19. Do I need to prepare an informed consent process if my project qualifies for Administrative Review (i.e., exempt status)? more >

20. What should I do with the informed consent documents once the participants have signed them? Does the IRB need to see them? more >

21. What do the terms " consent “, " assent “, and "permission " mean? Aren't they all the same thing? more >

22.  If there is reason to believe individual identity may be deduced from the study location, can I seek confidentiality protection for the study location and the social group for which it is a part, e.g. community, village? more >


23.  I want to conduct a study that involves the use of deception. Is this allowed? What do I need to consider? more >

24. What is the difference between "debriefing" and participant 'follow-up"? more >

Other Review Activities

25. What do I do if I want to make a change to a study that has already been approved? more >

26. I know I need to get approval to continue my study, but how do I do this? more >

27. What should I do if I’m done collecting data for my study? more >

28. Something unexpected happened in my study that led to harm for a participant. What should I do? more >

Additional Issues

29. What kind of training should I have in order to be able to conduct a study with human participants? more >

30. Do I need IRB approval if my research is not externally funded? more >

31. What is the difference between the terms "confidentiality" and "anonymity"? more >

32. Why aren't journalists required to go through the IRB review process? How does journalism differ from research with human subjects? more >

33. Can I provide compensation or incentives to my research participants? more >