If you are an instructor who wants your students to do research within your class, please see the Classroom Activities Policy to determine if you need IRB approval.

If you are a student, faculty, or staff member conducting human subjects research, then you need IRB approval for your project. There are two questions you need to ask (and this decision tree may be helpful):

1. “Is This Human Subjects?”

Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research:

(i)   Obtains information or biospecimens through intervention or interaction with the individual, and uses, studies, or analyzes the information or biospecimens; or 

(ii)   Obtains, uses, studies, analyzes, or generates identifiable private information or identifiable biospecimens.

2. “Is This Research?”

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:

(1)   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.***See Note Below

(2)   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).

(3)   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.

(4)   Authorized operational activities (as determined by each agency) in support of intelligence, homeland security, defense, or other national security missions.

If you meet both of these conditions, the IRB looks forward to your application!

If you have any questions about whether your project requires IRB approval, please email the Chair at irb@siena.edu

***Note About “Scholarly and Journalistic” Activities:

Specific scholarly and journalistic activities are excluded, but not the entire fields. When the activity is focused on an individual (for example, an oral history about Mr. X) this is not deemed to be research because ‘specific individuals are not generalizable.’ However, if the purpose of conducting oral histories is to learn more about a group of people with shared characteristics (i.e., to make conclusions and generalizations beyond the individuals), then it would be considered research.