Faculty Homepage of the
Mount St. Mary's University
Institutional Review Board

Does Your Research Require MSM IRB Review?

[This page is for faculty and administrative research.]

[If you are a student, click here to go to the IRB Student page.]

Probably. As per the requirements of the State of Maryland and the NIH and other bodies, scholarly and administrative research involving human and animal participants requires review by the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB). The purpose of the Board is to insure that human and animal participants in research are treated according to conventional ethical standards. In general, research targeted towards publication requires IRB review, whatever its level of risk.

However, the IRB rarely concerns itself with pedagogical research (standard educational classroom practices and laboratory exercises) which by its very nature will remain unpublished.

Your answer to the few questions below will help determine whether or not to electronically submit a proposal to the IRB for review of pedagogical research. Answering "NO" to all five questions probably means that your study involves no risk and is EXEMPTED. A 'YES' answer to one or more may mean that your study, even though pedagogical in nature, involves minimal risk (EXPEDITED REVIEW) or risk (FULL REVIEW) and thus requires IRB review.

  1. Will your participant's name be stored with the information you collect from them? (In other words, your participants will NOT be anonymous.)
  2. Will your participants do physical exercise, or be subject to psychological-type tests (formal or otherwise), or be involved medical-type procedures (blood sample, galvanic skin response, etc.)?
  3. Will your participants be asked about very personal characteristics (sexual, health, etc.), even if anonymous? Anonymous personal OPINIONS (politics, social policy, business practices, etc) are not included here.
  4. Will your research attempt to change or manipulate your participants in any way?
  5. Are your participants members of a special population? This includes juveniles (under age 18), and institutional residents of prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and the like.

If any of the above questions is answered with a "YES," you are strongly advised to continue to filing a formal IRB proposal online. Of course, these five questions are sufficiently vague to generate additional questions. For any such questions, contact IRB Chair, currently Dr. Robert Keefer at campus extension 5251 or click on his email address keefer@msmary.edu to send him a question.

If your research involves animal participants, contact Dr. Keefer regarding ethical review of animal projects.

If you plan to fill out an IRB proposal, it is strongly suggested that you look over the questions on the submission form carefully. You should prepare your answers in a word processor so that you can spell check them before submission. You can simply "cut and paste" your answers into the IRB proposal form on the next page. Click here for a MicroSoft Word version of the of the IRB Proposal Questionnaire/form.

Please note that all IRB applications involving human participation must include a copy of the Informed Consent form that will be used (as well as any debriefing form). This can simply be sent to the IRB Chair; again, click here or use keefer@msmary.edu to send him your forms.

The NIH site for training in Human Subject Research has been closed, for no apparent reason. The IRB is working on an alternative.
In the meantime, no certification will be required.
Also, please note that the IRB now requires all applicants complete the NIH training for the Protecting Human Research Participants at this address: https://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php
. You should include your certificate number in your answer to Question 2 on the application.


Updated: April, 2019