This overview of the different levels of IRB review will help you initially assess which form to submit, as well as the approximate timeline for revision feedback. Note that the IRB will determine final review level for any project. For further guidance or consultation regarding review level for your project, please contact the IRB at 206-296-2585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your study involves human subjects, the IRB must assess whether risks exist in the data collection process, regardless of your intent to present or publish. You do not need to complete human subjects training for exempt applications.
Educational research: Using student-related data to evaluate curricula or other pedagogical practices, provided that students cannot be identified, and participation remains voluntary if activities are additional to required course activities.
Interview/survey research on benign (non-sensitive) topics: Investigating topics about which disclosing any data would not embarrass or harm participant (socially, economically, etc.).
Public officials or professional/program evaluation: Asking professionals about techniques, outcomes, or best practices regarding program effectiveness.
Existing ("extant") data: Analyzing existing data (collected by someone else or some other organization), either de-identified or to be used in such a manner that no individual could be identified in the analysis (anonymous and/or aggregated).
Taste testing, food quality, marketing research: Collecting data on public opinion regarding taste or perception of benign issues (e.g., clothing or music preferences).
If you answer YES to any question above or your project does not appear to fit the exempt categories, the IRB will likely request an expedited/full-board submission. Before completing an exempt application, we recommend that you consult with the IRB regarding the level of review that your project will require.
Unlike exempt research, projects reviewed at the expedited level involve some privacy or psychological and/or physical risk to human subjects participants, but still to a minimal degree. (Complete list of biomedical categories permitted under expedited review, according to Federal regulations 45 CFR 46.110.) You must complete CITI human subjects training before you submit a project for review at the expedited level.
When research activities pose risks to participants significantly higher than those encountered in daily life, the study will need review by the full IRB. You must complete CITI human subjects training before you submit a project for review at the full-board level. Full-board reviews require more time for both you and for the committee, so be sure to read the timeline information below. Also note that the SU IRB does not conduct full-board reviews over the summer.
Exempt studies: processed within 3-4 business days.
Expedited studies: (reviewed on a rolling basis) You will receive revision feedback within 10-14 business days. Once you have resubmitted clarifications or revisions to meet conditions for approval, the IRB will issue a formal approval letter. (Average time from submission to approval: approx. 3-4 weeks)
Full-board studies: You must submit full-board studies 2-3 weeks before the monthly meeting (see IRB Full Board schedule for meetings and deadlines). Please plan to attend a short segment of the meeting to provide any clarifications. The IRB will provide feedback within 3-4 business days of the meeting. Once you have attended to further revisions, the primary reviewers will determine whether the protocol meets conditions for approval. If so, the IRB will issue a formal approval letter. Rarely, a protocol may require a second full-board review and revision process. (Average time from submission to approval: approx. 4-6 weeks)
Note: The IRB does not assign protocols for review to our faculty reviewers during formal University breaks and holidays. Review times may also be slightly delayed after breaks or during finals weeks. Additionally, the SU IRB conducts no full-board reviews over summer.