Research with Human Participants

FAQ for Faculty

What is the IRB?

The IRB is a committee that reviews all “research with human participants.” If you are doing research with human participants, you likely will need IRB approval before you start your project. The job of the IRB is to make sure all Scripps College research is done in a way that protects research participants’ rights and to help you as a researcher protect your participants’ rights.

How do I know if my research needs to be approved by the IRB?

Your research needs IRB review if you are planning to interact with, interview, survey, observe, or test people in any way, and you hope to draw conclusions that “develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge” (OHRP, 45 CFR46). Surveying college students about eating behaviors, interviewing women who work in corporations, and observing people interacting at a social gathering are examples of research with human participants.

Please ask us ([email protected]) whether you might need to get approval. Provide a brief description of your proposed project and your questions or concerns. We will let you know if your project requires IRB review (occasionally research is deemed “not human participants research” even if it does involve human participants). ***Note that projects deemed “exempt” still must be submitted to the IRB in order to be deemed “exempt.”

What do I do to submit a proposal to the IRB?

Go to the IRB website (see link below) for instructions on how to submit an application for a new proposal.  Before applying, email the IRB to create an IRB Box account. This is where you will upload your application. Before submitting an application, you must complete an online ethics training course, the link to an approved course is on the IRB website, and submit your completion certificate with your application. ***NOTE: Given that the Revised Common Rule is now implemented as of January 21, 2019, there will be changes made to the IRB proposal template and all new IRB reviews will be conducted in compliance with the new Common Rule.

Do I need to do anything if my student needs IRB approval?

All student projects require (at the minimum) a faculty supervisor. If you are serving as a faculty supervisor, 1) email the IRB stating that you have reviewed and support the proposal, and 2) complete the required online ethics training course and submit your completion certificate to the IRB via email or if you plan to submit to the IRB or supervise other students in the future, via your IRB Box account. Once your completion certificate is on file, you do not have to resend it for subsequent projects.

Where do I get more information about the IRB and the IRB review process?

Please visit our website at

How do I contact the IRB?

Please feel free to contact the IRB at [email protected]. Or you can contact one of us directly:

  • IRB co-chair for Quantitative Research: Jennifer Ma (jma@scrippscollege), IRB office hours, Th 3 – 4 pm (ST106)
    • Generally, her office hours will be first come, first served, unless someone has scheduled an appointment in advance. She will prioritize people with appointments, but when she is free, she will meet with drop in students as the schedule allows. Please email her directly for an appointment during these office hours.
  • IRB co-chair for Qualitative Research: Theodore Bartholomew ([email protected])
  • IRB Administrator: Warren Liu ([email protected])