Research conducted by students at The University of Mississippi is subject to the same policies and procedures as research conducted by faculty. What follows below is a summary of these policies and procedures.
University policy specifies that “any research involving human subjects must be approved by the Institutional Review Board.” Whether this provision applies to you is based on your answers to two questions:
- Is your study a systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to the body of generalizable knowledge? If yes, then your study is defined as research.
- Will you obtain data through investigation or interaction with one or more living individuals, or will you obtain any identifiable private information about a living individual? If yes, then you are using human subjects.
If you answered yes to both questions, then your study is defined as research with human subjects and must be approved by the IRB before you begin recruitment of research participants or data collection. Please note that survey research and pilot studies do meet this definition and must be approved by the IRB before you send out questionnaires, interview subjects, or otherwise have contact with potential subjects. IRB approval prior to any subject contact is mandated by Federal Law and by policy of The University of Mississippi.
Steps in the IRB Approval Process
1. Obtain training in the protection of human subjects.
The first step in the IRB approval process is to obtain the necessary training in the protection of human subjects. All faculty, students and staff who have contact with human research subjects or human subject research data must receive online education.
The education program we use at The University of Mississippi is called CITI Human Subjects Research Educational Program. To complete the CITI course you must first register at http://www.citiprogram.org/. Please be sure to register with the appropriate “Learners Group”: Group 3 is for graduate students and Group 4 is for undergraduates.
2. If you are writing a thesis or dissertation, have your proposal approved by your committee.
3. Complete the IRB New Study Application Form.
After signing it and obtaining the signatures of your research advisor and department chair, return the application to the IRB Office. When your application is complete, the IRB review process will be initiated. IRB review consists of an administrative review by IRB staff members and a systematic review by some or all Board members as appropriate to the nature of the research.
4. Respond promptly to any requests for modifications or clarifications.
You will be notified in writing by the IRB Chair or IRB Coordinator when your study has been approved, and afterwards, you may begin your study. IRB review can take up to four weeks. Please plan accordingly.
Please remember that, first and foremost, the IRB wants to ascertain that (a) human subjects are protected from undue risk and (b) all federal, state, and local laws and University policies are being observed. In the review process the primary question is whether risks to subjects are balanced by potential benefits to individual subjects or society. Often, the IRB requests modifications to a study in order to clarify the documents, to minimize risks to subjects, or to bring the study into compliance with prevailing laws and regulations.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Dr. Jennifer Caldwell, IRB Compliance Specialist, at irb ( at ) olemiss ( dot ) edu.