Human Subjects in Research or Other Projects

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

FWA 00005174 (expires August 14, 2024). All research or other projects involving the participation of human subjects must be submitted for review by the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB). This is done by submitting an application to the IRB. 

At the first stage of the approval process, applications for research or other projects considered to be exempt will be waived from further review. Nonexempt applications will receive either an expedited or full board review. All research or other projects must be exempted or approved by the IRB before they can be conducted. 

The IRB is guided by the ethical principles found in the report of the National Commission for the Protection of the Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research (entitled “Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research”) and the Code of Federal Regulations. You should also review the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information.

When reviewing a proposal, the board considers:

  • the risks to the subjects,
  • the anticipated benefits,
  • the importance of the knowledge that may result, and
  • the informed consent process to be employed.

Investigators are responsible for conducting the research or other project as described in the approved or exempted application and for submitting a revision to the application describing any departures from the original before revisions are implemented. Research may be subject to intramural inspection or audit.

Through its program, the IRB ensures that all research or other projects associated with Michigan Tech comply with all relevant government rules and regulations.

All research studies involving human participants conducted by Michigan Tech faculty, staff, or students as part of his or her University responsibilities are subject to IRB review and must be submitted via IRBNet. Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions on what you should submit.

Some studies (such as those listed below) involving human subjects are not considered research but should be submitted for evaluation purposes. Please either submit an exemption request via IRBNet or contact us at for assistance.

  • Michigan Tech president, dean/chair, teacher, and student evaluations;
  • Program evaluation research to benefit Michigan Tech and/or programs carried out by Michigan Tech administrative officials;
  • Projects designed to enhance or improve curricula offerings;
  • Projects designed to enhance or improve customer satisfaction;
  • Benefits or Human Resource surveys and evaluations;
  • Michigan Tech employee performance evaluations;
  • State of Michigan mandated program evaluations;
  • Marketing research that is designed to market the institution as a product; and
  • Classroom projects that:
    • do not extend beyond the classroom,
    • are a general requirement of a course,
    • have the sole purpose of developing the student’s research skills, and
    • will be overseen by a faculty member.

Some other studies are considered research and are subject to IRB review. Examples of these types of studies are mentioned below. You are required to submit complete applications when human subjects are:

  • Intended to satisfy the academic requirements for independent study, dissertation, or master’s thesis;
  • Intended or expected to result in publication, presentation outside the classroom, or public dissemination in some other form;
  • Part of a larger research project that has current Michigan Tech IRB approval;
  • Conducted outside the classroom and/or department research participant pool if they involve:
    • minors (i.e., persons under the age of 18),
    • a targeted population of adults whose ability to freely give informed consent may be compromised (i.e., persons who are socioeconomically, educationally, or linguistically disadvantaged, cognitively impaired, elderly, terminally ill, or incarcerated),
    • pregnant women and/or fetuses,
    • a topic of sensitive or personal nature, the examination or reporting of which may place the research participant at more than minimal risk, or
    • any type of activity that places research subjects at more than minimal risk; or
  • Part of a larger research project that has current approval of a registered IRB at another institution, provided that, if research participants are to be recruited at Michigan Tech, the Michigan Tech IRB has given permission for such on-campus recruitment.

Review Process and Deadlines

Projects submitted to IRBNet undergo an administrative review to determine the level of risk to human participants. There are four categories of review depending on the level of risk: exempt, limited, expedited, or full.

Exempt, Limited, or Expedited Review

Projects determined minimal risk can be administratively determined exempt from IRB review and oversight. Projects with minimal risk but requiring a limited or expedited review will be sent to a single IRB member for IRB review and approval.

Projects are reviewed on a rolling basis upon receipt. Please allow a minimum of two weeks for a final determination or approval letter to be posted to IRBNet.

Full Board Review Projects

Any projects determined more than minimal risk will require a review by the full board and can only be approved at a convened full IRB meeting.

The project must be submitted at least 10 working days prior to the next full board meeting to be considered for presentation at that month's convened meeting. Projects that are not review ready upon submission will not be considered.

Convened Full IRB Meeting Dates

Until further notice, convened full IRB meetings will be held as needed.

We remind researchers that more than minimal risk projects can take a month or more to secure approval. We recommend submitting projects to IRBNet well in advance of the expected start date. Once the project is determined more than minimal risk by the human research protection program (HRPP) office, a full convened meeting will be scheduled.