Working With Human Subjects
Any university that accepts federal funding for research is required to have an institutional review board (IRB) to protect human subjects. The local IRB sets up processes for approving research protocols and tracking ongoing research. Although the specific processes on your campus may differ slightly from the descriptions below, the principles captured here apply across institutions.
Here at CSU, the office that oversees research on campus is titled the Research Integrity and Compliance Review Office (RICRO). This office coordinates the work of several committees that ensure safe and ethical research practices, including the Institutional Review Board. At Colorado State University, graduate students, faculty members, or other members of the University who conduct research with human subjects are required to have prior approval from this committee, our IRB. Depending on the research methods and goals, the research protocol may need to be reviewed by the full committee, a process taking about three weeks, given an expedited review, or exempted from review. The forms of review are covered in the second section below.
Although subjects rarely encounter any risks from the kinds of research graduate students and faculty in English studies do, the IRB must assess such risks and assure that participants in any study give informed consent. We take up these issues in the third and fourth sections. The final sections provide other useful links and samples of IRB materials and methodology chapters.