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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an IRB?

An Institutional Review Board insures the protection of human subjects through review and approval of all research* proposed to take place under the auspices of NSCC.

*Research is defined as a "systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge."

What prompted codifying the protection of human subjects?

Atrocities such as medical experimentation conducted by Nazi Germany and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service led respectively to the Nuremburg Code and the Belmont Report that set forth the ethical principles that are the foundation for acceptable investigator conduct that involves human subjects. In 1981 the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services) codified regulations regarding human subjects (45 CFR Part 46). In 1991 similar regulations were adopted by 17 federal agencies and are known as the "Common Rule".

Why is NSCC creating an IRB?

Many grant proposals including those submitted to the National Science Foundation now require that colleges verify compliance with IRB regulations. The IRB is the entity through which a college demonstrates compliance.

Secondarily, the establishment of an IRB requires that the whole academic community increase its understanding about research and its role in learning both on an individual and institutional level. The IRB process will help develop organization-wide knowledge about research, its design and the ethical and legal requirements.

How is an IRB structured?

Size and Membership
The IRB must have at least 5 members with varying background to promote complete and adequate review of research activities commonly conducted by the institution. Membership should reflect the demographics of the institution and community and must not be comprised of all women or all men. Additionally it must have at least one member whose primary concerns are in scientific areas and at least one member whose primary concerns are in nonscientific areas. It must also include at least one member who is not affiliated with the institution. An IRB may invite individuals with competence in special areas to assist in the review of issues which require expertise beyond or in addition to that available on the IRB.

Frequency of Meetings
Three meetings per academic year occurring in September, January and May.

IRB Responsibilities

  • Written procedures and guidelines for submission of research proposals
  • Review and approval of all research proposals, both new and annual review
  • Maintenance of records

More Information

The Department of Health and Human Services maintains pages with information on Institutional Review Boards and Federalwide Assurances (FWA). Both are listed below:
IRBs and Assurances
IRB Registration Process

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