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Research Compliance

Human Subject Research (IRB)

The purpose of the University of Alabama’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to ensure the safe and ethical treatment of humans as subjects in research, public service, and training programs. In accordance with federal and university regulations, it is required that the IRB review all research involving human subjects conducted at or sponsored by The University of Alabama regardless of the funding source. The University of Alabama’s IRB has a moral duty and obligation to protect human subjects prior to the commencement of any research study and to discontinue any protocol upon notification of irregular activity warranting such action.

Please contact the Office for Research Compliance if you have any questions or comments.

Learn more and get hands-on experience with our virtual training sessions: The IRB & You – How to Submit an IRB Application

Approval Process

For IRB purposes, research is defined as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.”

A human participant is a living individual about whom or from whom an investigator obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual or through records containing identifiable private information.

If you answer “yes” to both of these questions, you need to have the IRB approve your project before you begin conducting any research.

Class Assignments

In support of its teaching mission, The University of Alabama encourages novel and innovative classroom activities. Some faculty design class assignments that involve questionnaires, interviews, or other interactions with individuals, such as those commonly used in research methods courses. In these cases, faculty should consider if such assignments should be reviewed by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) to ensure the protection of human subjects.

Student class assignments that are intended to collect information systematically with the intent to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., publish or disseminate data) meet the federal regulatory definition of “research.”  These class assignments fall under the jurisdiction of the IRB and require IRB application, approval, and oversight.  Instructors wishing to use such assignments must apply to the appropriate IRB for review and approval of these assignments before they begin.

For these projects, it is best practice to check with the IRB for a determination regarding whether IRB review is necessary.

Participant Outreach

If you are considering, have been asked, or given permission for a loved one to participate in a research study, the Office for Research Compliance welcomes your questions. To discuss problems, concerns, questions, obtain information or offer input about a research study, please contact us.

What You Should Know Before Deciding to Participate in a Research Study

If you would like to volunteer in a research study, please review the Participant Brochure and FAQs to help you decide whether to take part.

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