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Class Assignments and Student Research Projects

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Class Assignments and Student Research Projects

Class Assignments and the IRB

Learning how to conduct ethical human subjects research is an important part of a student’s educational experience. Research activities that are designed as part of a course requirement for purposes of learning experience only and are NOT designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge MAY not require IRB review and approval if all of the following conditions are true:

  • Results of the research are viewed only by the course instructor for teaching purposes and discussed within the classroom for teaching and learning purposes.
  • Results of the research are not made public through presentation (outside of the classroom) and are not published in paper or electronic format (e.g., cannot be made available on the internet, cannot be published in a journal, etc.).
  • Research procedures are no more than minimal risk.
  • Vulnerable populations are not targeted (e.g., children under age 18 other than for educational research conducted in school classrooms or other commonly accepted educational setting), prisoners, persons who are cognitively impaired, etc.): If unsure, please consult the IRB office.
  • Data collected are recorded in such a manner that the subjects are not identifiable (Images in videotapes and photographs and voices on audiotape are identifiable.)
  • When appropriate, an informed consent process is in place.

Responsibility of the Course Instructor:

The course instructor is responsible for communicating to the students the ethics of human subjects research, for ensuring the protection of human subjects (including a process in place for obtaining voluntary informed consent from research subjects when appropriate), and for monitoring the students’ progress.

When designing a project, students should be instructed about the ethical conduct of research and about the preparation of the IRB application when such is required. In particular, instructors and students should:

  • understand the elements of informed consent;
  • develop appropriate consent documents;
  • plan appropriate strategies for recruiting subjects;
  • identify and minimize potential risks to subjects;
  • assess the risk-benefit ratio for the project;
  • establish and maintain strict guidelines for protecting confidentiality; and
  • allow sufficient time for IRB review (if necessary) and completion of the project.

In making a determination of whether or not a class research project requires IRB review, the instructor is encouraged to err on the side of caution and to contact the OPRS Office for assistance (irb@illinois.edu or 217-333-2670).

Individual Research Projects Conducted by Students

Independent study projects, senior theses, undergraduate research projects, master’s and advanced degree research, and similar exercises must be independently submitted for IRB review.  It is important to keep in mind that any human subjects research activity that will ultimately contribute to part or all of a thesis, dissertation, or other type of publication or presentation must go through the IRB review process prior to enrolling subjects and collecting data. IRB review cannot occur after a study has begun.

*IRB review cannot occur after a study has begun AND data collected without IRB approval that meets the criteria above may not ever be used beyond class papers or presentations.

*If a student is not absolutely sure that they will never want to use the data after the class they should obtain separate IRB approval first and not use the course projects policy. Generally this policy is more effective with undergraduate than graduate students.

Students and advisers should contact the OPRS Office (irb@illinois.edu or 217-333-2670) with any questions.

HUMAN PARTICIPANTS AND CLASS ASSIGNMENTS (IRB Course Projects Policy)

Learning how to conduct ethical research is an important part of a student's educational experience. Research activities that are designed as part of a course requirement and involve human participants MAY not require IRB review and approval if all of the following conditions are true:

  • The activity is a class assignment designed for learning purposes only and is not designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
  • Results of the research are viewed only by the course instructor for teaching purposes and discussed within the classroom for teaching and learning purposes.
  • Results of the research are not made public through presentation (outside of the classroom) and are not published in paper or electronic format (i.e., cannot be made publicly available on the Internet), cannot be published in a journal, etc.
  • Research procedures are no more than minimal risk.
  • Vulnerable populations are not targeted (e.g., children under age 18 other than for educational research conducted in school classrooms or other commonly accepted educational setting), prisoners, persons who are cognitively impaired, etc.): If unsure, please consult the IRB office.
  • When appropriate, an informed consent or assent process is in place.