The review procedure is based on the category of your research. Review the following guidelines to determine the correct category for your proposal. The researcher--and if appropriate, the faculty advisor--makes the initial category determination. The IRB makes the final decision.
The IRB may require full review of any research submitted under either of the first two categories, as well as full review of any research previously approved under expedited review if you seek approval beyond the initial 12 month approval period.
The researcher can always request a higher level of review than what is required.
Exempt Review (Category 1): Research presents minimal risk to subjects and is one of the following:
- anonymous survey on innocuous topics, both on paper and online
- anonymous, non-interactive non-participating observation of public behavior
- secondary analysis of existing data
- 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) for all subjects, including minors
- research involving surveys, interviews or observation of public behavior for subjects over 18 only
See CFR 46.101 on the OHRP website for more detailed information.
Expedited Review (Category 2): Research presents minimal risk to subjects and is one of the following:
- research involving surveys, interviews or observation of public behavior for subjects under 18 (e.g., minors)
- research on individual or group characteristics or behavior (including, but not limited to, research on perception, cognition, motivation, identity, language, communication, cultural beliefs or practices, and social behavior), including minors
- collection of data from voice, video, digital, or image recordings made for research purposes
- most non-curricular, interactive research in schools
- minor changes in previously approved research
- continuations of approval for previously approved exempt or expedited research with no more than minor changes in procedures
See OHRP Categories of Research for more detailed information.
Full Review (Category 3): Research has the potential for harming participants, violates their rights, or requires special protections for participants. Such research includes the following:
- research which might put participants at risk
- research involving psychological or physiological intervention that involves more than minimal risk
- interviews or surveys on sensitive topics that may pose more than minimal risk (e.g., sexual activity, alcohol or drug use, illegal behavior)
- some research involving deception
- research with special populations (e.g., prisoners, adults with mental health issues or developmental delays) whether or not the research is covered by another assurance
- research involving deception
The following flowcharts may also help you determine which category best fits your research:
Chart 1: Is an Activity Research Involving Human Subjects?
Chart 2: Is the Human Subjects Research Eligible for Exemption?
Chart 3: Does Exemption 45 CFR 46.101(b)(1) (for Educational Settings) Apply?
Chart 4: Does exemption 45 CFR 46.101(b)(2) or (b)(3) (for Tests, Surveys, Interviews, Public Behavior Observation) Apply?
Chart 5: Does Exemption 45 CFR 46.101(b)(4) (for Existing Data, Documents, Records and Specimens) Apply?
Chart 8: May the IRB Review Be Done by Expedited Procedures?
Last Updated 7/7/15