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Institutional Review Board

Message to Saint Xavier Students

Conducting Research With Human Subjects

As student researchers at Saint Xavier University, you should know there are federal regulations and University policies governing all research with humans subjects. These guidelines apply equally to faculty members, freshmen conducting their first campus surveys, graduate students performing advanced experiments with human volunteers, business students conducting market surveys, education majors studying group differences in student performance, nursing students investigating health risks, as well as any other research projects involving human subjects. In order to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects, all such research at Saint Xavier University must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before you may proceed. Below are some ethical concerns you should consider when developing your research project.

  1. You may not place any pressure on prospective volunteers to participate in your research. A participation must be completely voluntary. People are free not to participate and may discontinue their participation at any time.
  2. You must protect the anonymity of your participants. Do not report names or other identifying characteristics in your papers.
  3. All information must be kept in strictest confidence. You may not discuss specific answers or information from a particular individual with anyone else.
  4. You may not harm your volunteers in any way. You may not expose your volunteers to circumstances that might cause physical injury, undue emotional trauma or social censure. You may not financially or sexually exploit your volunteers. Keep in mind that asking some personal questions may be upsetting to some people and therefore may be considered harmful. If there is even a potential risk of harm, you must assess the level of risk and make every effort to minimize it. All potential risks must be reported to the IRB.
  5. You must assess the benefits of your research to your volunteers or to others. Federal regulation require you to ensure that the benefits of your research outweigh any risks. Ethical research is research that involves some clear benefit and little if any risk. Research with high risks and no benefits should not be performed.
  6. You must select your subjects in a fair and equitable manner. Participants should be selected because of reasons directly related to the problem being studied rather than because they are gullible, powerless or dependent on you for rewards or punishments.
  7. You must tell your subjects the purpose of the study and obtain their informed consent. Contact your instructor or the IRB for instructions on designing informed consent forms.
  8. Except under exceptional circumstances, you may not deceive your subjects about the purpose of the study. Studies employing deception must undergo a full IRB review.

When developing your research proposal, it is vital to inform your instructor about your topic, the type of people you are studying, and how you intend to collect data (questionnaires, experiments, in-depth interviews, etc.). If you are conducting research with human subjects as part of a class assignment, you instructor may seek an exemption from full IRB review for the entire class. Please contact your instructor or members of the IRB if you have any questions concerning proper procedures for conducting ethical research with human volunteers.