Student Class Project Guidelines
To ensure ethical conduct of research projects, instructors and faculty who assign projects involving individuals as research subjects are expected to review students’ plans prior to subject recruitment and data collection.
Instructors are required to complete the CITI training. The IRB strongly encourages students to also complete this training.
Research qualifies for the designation of student class project if:
- It is an activity designed as part of a course requirement for purposes of learning research methods and;
- The results and data will not be presented, posted, or published outside of the classroom.
A student class project does not meet the definition of human subject research because the project is intended only for classroom purposes. The student cannot use the project for any presentation, conference, publication, thesis, dissertation, or report outside of the course for which it is assigned.
The student must submit an IRB application if they intend to use the project outside of the classroom. This application must be approved before the student starts the project. Instructors should make this clear to their students.
Obtaining consent is important to the ethical conduct of research. It is strongly recommended students obtain either verbal or signed consent from participants in their projects. In most cases it is better to use an informed consent document to give to project participants. However, students may use a verbal script to inform project participants instead. If students choose to use scripts instead of consent forms, instructors should make sure that their scripts accurately reflect the plans of the project.
- The student expresses intent to use the project for a presentation, conference, publication, thesis, or dissertation (they must submit an IRB application).
- The project’s activities expose participants to more than “minimal risk” (minimal risk means no more risk than everyday life).
- The project involves sensitive/private information such as sexual attitudes or behaviors, illegal behaviors, and/or the use of alcohol or drugs.
- The project uses vulnerable populations (e.g., children under the age of 18, institutionalized persons, prisoners, persons who are “decisionally” impaired, etc.) or members of a “Subject Pool” as subjects.
- Results of the project activities or data collected are recorded in such a way that the subjects are identifiable (images in videotapes or photographs and voices on audiotape are identifiable).
- There is no informed consent process in place.
- Subjects are under the direction or supervision of students collecting data (e.g. TAs collecting data from their own students or supervisors collecting data from employees).
- Students do not plan to maintain confidentiality of the data (e.g. using subjects’ real names, inability to store consent forms in locked office/cabinet, etc.).
- Subjects are forced to participate or are ostracized if they do not participate.
- The IRB is most concerned with protection of human subjects and their data. Thus the application should be detailed in describing: source of subjects, recruitment methods of subjects, interaction with subjects, informed consent processes, maintaining confidentiality of data, and data storage. These areas of the application, if executed well, will ensure faster processing.
- The IRB does NOT need robust literature reviews and lengthy background information details. The literature review should be no more than two paragraphs and it should cite three to ten references.
- Data collection instruments that are not solidified can be submitted as “semi-structured” and updated later.
- An instructor who expects students to use the class project toward a publication or presentation outside of the classroom may assist students by having them work in pairs, or by creating strict parameters for the class so that the project can be submitted under one application where the instructor is PI and the students are listed as co-investigators.