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Tips for Navigating the Human Subjects Research Review Process
- Keep in mind that the review committee members only know what you include in your research proposal. Include as much detail as possible.
- Double-check for consistency in your research procedures. (For example, don’t state in one place that your data are confidential and in another place that your data are anonymous, or give a number of 100 participants in one place and 150 participants in another place.)
- Respond to every item on the proposal form.
- Be thorough. Too much information is better than too little.
- If you are unsure how to fill out an item on the application or what information the IRB needs, check the Detailed Proposal Instructions and/or contact the IRB. Someone will be happy to explain or answer your question(s).
- Submit all required signatures.
- Submit all paperwork as one Word or PDF document.
- Keep a copy of all the paperwork you submit. This will help you in two ways:
- It will make it easier to make requested revisions.
- It will make it easier to request renewal.
- If you are using a consent form:
- Follow the template and include all of the required elements.
- Be consistent throughout the consent form.
- Do not delete any sections of the template.
- A target reading level of 8th grade or less should be the goal for most projects. If you need to adjust the template significantly, please contact the IRB.
- Make sure you apply for a waiver of documentation of consent if applicable. This includes research involving online surveys, telephone interviews and any other research in which a signed consent form will not be obtained from subjects.
- If you are asked for revisions:
- Make sure you respond to each revision that is requested.
- Highlight all revisions.
- Respond directly to the feedback e-mail so that all feedback is contained in the e-mail thread.
- Request further explanation on any revision request that seems unclear.
- Be prompt in your response to requested revisions. The sooner you respond, the sooner the IRB can review the protocol.
- It is okay to check on the status of your protocol.
- Keep other study team members on track with CITI training. The IRB will not approve a protocol until the correct CITI training certificates have been submitted for all study team members.
Submitting an incomplete proposal to the IRB can slow the process down significantly. Listed below are the most common errors made by faculty, staff and student investigators:
- All questions are not answered completely or correctly. Using the Detailed Proposal Instructions on the IRB page is essential, particularly for those submitting for the first time.
- Proposal has not been proofread/edited for grammar, spelling and general clarity.
- Required attachments are missing.