Institutional Review Board

How Do I Know When to Work with the IRB?


If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, you should contact the IRB Chair to discuss your project in more detail.

  • Does my project involve human subjects?
  • Is my project considered research?
  • Does my project involve more than minimal risk?
  • Does my project involve vulnerable populations?

Click here to view The IRB Guidebook.

Human Subjects: Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information. Private information includes information about behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record). Private information must be individually identifiable (i.e., the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information) in order for obtaining the information to constitute research involving human subjects.

Research: Research is defined as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

Minimal Risk: The definition of minimal risk is that the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests. Principal investigators have an obligation to protect persons from harm by maximizing anticipated benefits and minimizing possible risks of harm.

Vulnerable Populations: Vulnerable populations include such groups as children under the age of 18, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled persons, economically disadvantaged persons, and educationally disadvantaged persons.

If you have any question about your project it is imperative you contact the SCC IRB prior to beginning.

IRB FAQs for Honors Students