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Research Integrity

Do I Need IRB?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a federally mandated committee that oversees the ethical conduct of human subjects research at an institution. Florida Atlantic University's IRB serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in research.

The IRB reviews and approves protocols for research involving humans and ensures that appropriate steps are taken to protect their rights and welfare. FAU's IRB is comprised of faculty members representing a variety of backgrounds, training and experience, as well as community members who have no formal connection with the University.

Many researchers wonder if their research requires IRB review. If your research meets the following two definitions then you are involved in research with human subjects:

  • "Research" means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities that meet this definition constitute research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program that is considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration and service programs may include research activities. For purposes of this part, the following activities are deemed not to be research:
    • Scholarly and journalistic activities (e.g., oral history, journalism, biography, literary criticism, legal research, and historical scholarship), including the collection and use of information, that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected.
    • Public health surveillance activities, including the collection and testing of information or biospecimens, conducted, supported, requested, ordered, required, or authorized by a public health authority. Such activities are limited to those necessary to allow a public health authority to identify, monitor, assess, or investigate potential public health signals, onsets of disease outbreaks, or conditions of public health importance (including trends, signals, risk factors, patterns in diseases, or increases in injuries from using consumer products). Such activities include those associated with providing timely situational awareness and priority setting during the course of an event or crisis that threatens public health (including natural or man-made disasters).
    • Collection and analysis of information, biospecimens, or records by or for a criminal justice agency for activities authorized by law or court order solely for criminal justice or criminal investigative purposes.
    • Authorized operational activities (as determined by each agency) in support of intelligence, homeland security, defense, or other national security missions.
  • "Human subject" means a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains: 1.) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or 2.) identifiable private information.

Determination of Human Subjects Research Under DHSS Regulations
For assistance in determining whether you need to submit an application to the IRB, refer to one of the following resources: Once it is clear that you need to submit an IRB application, click here to begin the electronic submission process.

Upon completion of the Determination of Human Subjects Research Form 6, please contact the Research Integrity staff to confirm your research is not human subjects under DHHS regulations. The IRB will submit an official letter if your project does not qualify as research that involves human participants.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the Research Integrity office at researchintegrity@fau.edu or 561.297.1383.

 Last Modified 1/17/19