Test: Do I Need a Review

The sole purpose of an institutional review board is to determine the ethics and safety of research involving human participants. This determination is made by reviewing the proposed research prior to the commencement of a study. How do researchers know if a project requires review? This section is intended to help potential researchers make this determination.

Review Checklist

  • Is your project a “systematic investigation” featuring a special plan (protocol) to be carried out with an identifiable group of human participants?
  • Do you intend to gather coded data (information, interviews, observations, etc.) in order to draw (generalizable) conclusions for presentation in some “public” context?
  • Are you conducting special, deliberate, or out of the ordinary activities with the people you are engaging in your study via intervention and/or interaction?
  • Are you eliciting private information a person would not typically disclose publicly in the course of a normal day?
  • Will disclosed information be recorded and shared in such a way that an outside observer could link it back to that individual? See: Identifiable
  • Can and will the findings from this investigation be applied to other, similar circumstances?

Art vs Research

Does this need to be a section on its own to make clearer what the line is/may be?

Common Examples

Need a link(s)

Decision Trees

Need a link(s)


  • Art/Journalism (Photo documentary or interviews with artists)
  • Library Research
  • Class Testing
  • Internal Campus Surveys
  • "Exempt" by Definition (Need a definition or a link)

Assuring Collaborating Institutions

In most cases, researchers from the SAIC community are conducting projects with collaborating institutions (for example, healthcare, school, or community organizations).  Having an IRB review of a proposed study not only provides reassurance that the project is safe and ethical, but also ensures that the partner organization adheres to their federal obligations for research involving the people their agency serves.