Institutional Review Board Quick Start Guide

The following answers to frequently-asked questions describe what BRCC's IRB does and which research activities require an IRB application.

What is the IRB?
BRCC’s IRB, or Institutional Review Board, is charged with ensuring that research conducted at the college involving human subjects adheres to ethical and professional standards, in accordance with federal statutes regarding human subjects research. These federal statutes require that research involving human subjects preserves safeguards for minimizing risk, obtaining informed consent, and maintaining privacy for those who participate.

How do I know whether my project requires approval by the IRB?
The key terms are “research” and “human subjects.” Do you plan for results of your work to be published or presented to a public audience? If “yes,” then this constitutes “research.” Does your research evaluate interactions with live human beings or data taken from live human beings? If “yes,” then your work involves human subjects. If you answered “yes” to both questions then your work likely requires IRB review.  Examples of applicable human subjects-oriented activities include gathering of pathological specimens such as blood, skin, or hair samples; administering medicine, examinations, or treatments; and more indirect interactions such as conducting surveys, interviews, or observations of behavior.

Does data-gathering related to normal business of the College require IRB approval?
This kind of data-gathering does not require any IRB approval or oversight, as long as the data is to be used solely in the service of institutional operations or effectiveness (for instance, in accreditation, program review, grant applications, or student job placement).

What is required for submitting an application?
The principal investigator (PI) must complete a Human Subjects Research training course, such as the Protecting Human Research Participants (PHRP) course.

Additional application requirements apply for graduate students and researchers from outside the BRCC community. 

The IRB application and associated materials are available online at the web site of BRCC’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives.

Submit your completed application to the IRB Chair at least thirty (30) days prior to the planned start of your research project. Upon receipt the Chair will apprise you of the disposition of your application and when you can expect to receive a response.

On what general criteria will the IRB evaluate my application?
Minimized, reasonable risks to human subjects in relation to anticipated benefits;
Equitable selection of human subjects;
Adequate effort to obtain and document informed consent;
The research plan makes adequate provisions to protect the privacy of human subjects and to maintain the confidentiality of data.

What if I have further questions?
Contact the staff of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives.