Institutional Review Board

The role of the Northland Community & Technical College (Northland) Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to ensure that research subjects are treated with dignity, respect, and with due regard for their welfare. All research involving the use of human subjects at Northland or by Northland employees and students must be reviewed and approved by the Northland IRB before the research can be initiated.

Research can begin after the IRB approves the project or exempts the project from further review. A researcher may not self-determine that his or her research project qualifies as exempt from IRB review. The review of an IRB application typically takes one to two weeks.

Under federal regulations, certain types of research are exempt from IRB review. An IRB Chair, not the investigator, shall make the determination as to whether a project is or is not exempt. To obtain an exemption, an investigator must submit an IRB Exempt Application citing the specific exemption category and providing justification for the exemption. An IRB Chair will review the form and either approve it as an exemption, or will explain to the Principal Investigator (PI) why the project is subject to expedited or full review instead.

Exempt types of research include:

  • Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as (i) research on regular and special education instructional strategies, or (ii) research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods
  • Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of public behavior, unless: (i) information obtained is recorded in such a manner that human subjects can be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects; and (ii) any disclosure of the human subjects’ responses outside the research could reasonably place the subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subjects’ financial standing, employability, or reputation.
  • Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures, or observation of public behavior that is not exempt under paragraph (2) of this section, if: (i) the human subjects are elected or appointed public officials or candidates for public office, or (ii) Federal statute(s) require(s) without exception that the confidentiality of the personally identifiable information will be maintained throughout the research and thereafter.
  • Research involving the collection or study of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens, if these sources are publicly available or if the information is recorded by the investigator in such a manner that subjects cannot be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects.
  • Research and demonstration projects which are conducted by or subject to the approval of Department or Agency heads, and which are designed to study, evaluate, or otherwise examine: (i) Public benefit or service programs; (ii) procedures for obtaining benefits or services under those programs; (iii) possible changes in or alternatives to those programs or procedures; or (iv) possible changes in methods or levels of payment for benefits or services under those programs.
  • Taste and food quality evaluation and consumer acceptance studies, (i) if wholesome foods without additives are consumed or (ii) if a food is consumed that contains a food ingredient at or below the level and for use found to be safe, or agricultural chemical or environmental contaminant at or below the level found to be safe, by the Food and Drug Administration or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Research that is not exempt requires the PI to complete an online training module on ethical research. This module costs $35 and can be found at the following link: PHRP Protecting Human Research Participants Online Training. The certificate showing completion of the training needs to be submitted along with the IRB Standard Application.

Completed Exempt or Standard Applications should be submitted to Justin Berry.