Frequently Asked Questions about IRB

Why must I go through ethics training?

  • Ethics training for IRB approval is federally mandated. Since Kalamazoo College receives federal funds for financial aid, we must follow this mandate or risk losing funding.

When are applications due?

  • During the school year, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis; please allow up to 2 weeks for feedback. Applications are not review over break, so please have your application in by Friday of week 8 to make sure you can get approval before the end of the current quarter. 
  • If you are applying for approval of a SIP project that begins in summer, please have your application in by Friday of week 8 to make sure you can get approval before the end of the current quarter.
  • If you are looking for IRB approval over summer break, the committee will review applications once. To ensure IRB review of a project, the deadline for applications is July 1.

Why must my faculty research supervisor look at my application?

  • Your research project has an supervisor and each part of the project is read and looked over by your supervisor. The IRB application is part of this project, thus your supervisor should be part of this process as well. Furthermore, your supervisor may also be catch mistakes you made and will help you think about the feasibility of your project.

What if my project has been approved by the IRB at another institution?

  • If you are collecting data at the institution where the IRB approved the project, you do not need to do anything further. If you wish to collect data at Kalamazoo College, you must get approval from our IRB. In many cases, this is as simple as submitting the previously approved protocol and letter of approval from the other IRB.

What if my project is not approved?

  • Very rarely does this happen. Any problematic applications are usually vetted and changed by the faculty adviser. Sometimes, however, IRB receives applications that indicate the researcher may harm the research subjects or may put him/herself in danger. In those cases, the committee will work with the researcher to change their project to be safer.

What if my project changes?

  • Then you must submit a renewal form (available on our home page), detailing the changes to the protocol from what was previously approved. In some situations where the changes are great, it may be easier to submit an entirely new application.

What if my project goes on for more than a year?

  • Then you must submit an application to renew your project. There is a renewal application linked on our homepage. It is much shorter than resubmitting the entire original application. You do not need to complete the ethics training again. If and when you move to another institution, then you must redo the ethics training using that institution’s guidelines.

What if I’m going abroad?

  • You still need IRB approval and need to have your subjects sign consent/assent forms.

What if my subjects cannot read?

  • You must read the consent form to your subject and then obtain their signature. This must be indicated on the form as well.

What if my subjects cannot read English?

  • Then you must translate your consent form into the language of your research subject. If your supervisor cannot speak the language of your research subject, please be sure to include both the English and translated version of the form in your final application.
  • Yes, however, the form must be signed in some form (either a recording of you reading the form and getting a yes, getting an actual signature or an e-signature over email). You must keep proper records of this.

Does my project really need IRB approval?

  • If you are dealing with human subjects in anyway, then yes. If in doubt, it is better to get approval than to not get approval.

Do I need approval if I am just collecting oral histories?

  • Yes.

How long after I submit my application, will I get formal approval from the IRB representative?

  • Reading through these applications is a important and time-consuming task. Please give the IRB committee member in charge in charge of granting approval at least two weeks. Further, if there are parts missing in your application, or if you have sent multiple documents instead of the one combined application then you will be asked redo certain parts and follow the IRB procedure. This will also add time to the process.

I have already started my research, and I just realized that I: a) want to use this research for a public presentation/publication or b)actually need IRB approval. What should I do?

  • Unfortunately there is not much IRB can do at this point. If the research was done as part of a class, it must stay in that class. If it was done for a SIP or other research, then you must start the research again. You may not use non-IRB approved data in any public presentation or publication that will have any formal association with Kalamazoo College. Further, the IRB committee cannot accept a backdated application, nor can we backdate an approval.