Over the past few weeks, I have had a number of conversations designed to help faculty plan small-scale projects such as surveys, in preparation of the upcoming ACC-RAC conference in March 2010. Because of these interactions, I can see some areas where a little guidance can help you prepare IRB applications and plan for your projects. I wanted to therefore discuss what is present on our IRB website.
The website is located at http://w3.palmer.edu/irb, and as I write this I should note that the IRB is undergoing some change after its move from the Research Department to the Office of Strategic Development, where it is part of the overall college compliance function. Thus, some additional changes to the site may occur in the near future. When you log on to the home page, you will see a list of personnel to contact for information, as well as a set of links on the left side of the page. These links are to (1) IRB forms, (2) IRB meeting schedule, (3) IRB member’s toolkit, (4) Policies and procedures, and (5) Researcher’s Toolkit. In addition, there is a link to frequently asked questions (FAQs- this link has yet to be populated with information). Let me hold for a moment on the forms link, since that is the one you need for submitting an application. The meeting schedule will be useful for you in planning; you will need to submit your completed application 2 weeks ahead of a meeting for it to be included in that meeting. Plan accordingly. The IRB member’s toolkit provides some information for IRB members, including links to the CONSORT document, the online training program at NIH for IRB members, and a set of other links about proper IRB function and law. It is still under construction at present. Policies and procedures is a link to PCC policies about research, as well as a link to the Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP). The researcher’s toolkit provides a set of links that can be of help to the novice researcher, including a link to the NIH training program in clinical research that should take if you desire to conduct research.
But of main interest is the link to the IRB forms. If you wish to conduct a study on campus, such as survey of students in a course you teach, you must complete the IRB application form, which is listed as the first link in the material on this page. When you click that link, it will allow you download a form that makes it possible for you to input information. Take this form very seriously and think about the questions it asks you. You will need to provide some detail, and you will have to provide a thoughtful plan for what you plan to do. This includes information on how you will recruit your participants, how you will analyze data, how you will protect confidentiality and let people know they do not have to participate in what you are doing, what methods you are using, and so on. Each question must be answered on the form. Question 5 is critically important, and it has many sub-questions (5a-5i). Questions 8, 9 and 11 are also quite important. Note also that the final page requires your signature as well as that of your supervisor.
I know that this seems burdensome, but it is not. It is designed to ensure that (1)all participants in research at Palmer College are properly protected, (2) Palmer College is in compliance with 45CFR46, the so-called “Common Rule” governing the use of human subjects in research, and (3) you have thought through your project and can complete it with success. It is part of the process of conducting research. As always I am ready to help you in this regard. Look over the material and let me know any questions you have.