OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Human Subject Research

OSU's Institutional Review Board (IRB) has been mandated by the federal government to ensure that all research involving human subjects is conducted in a safe, respectful and ethical manner.

If you intend to conduct primary research (ie. interview, survey) for your thesis, you are required by law to gain IRB approval.

There are several things you need to do before you can submit your application to the IRB.

First, learn a bit more about the types of primary research that are available and decide which, if any, would be most appropriate to help you answer your research question. Primary research can be a wonderful tool, but depending on your topic, it may not make sense.

Second, review the IRB's handbook, particularly the sections on the types of projects that require IRB approval, student research and international research. These pages help explain what you need to do and why you need to do it.

Third, the IRB application will require that you and your "principal investigator" (ie. thesis advisor) have completed a free, online course in the protection of human subjects. This will take a couple of hours, but includes important information!

Fourth, begin formulating a plan for how you're going to conduct research. Use resources such as your thesis advisor, the ID office and the IRB office to make sure you're on the right track. Your plan should address the following questions:

  • who do you intend to study?
  • why do you want to study this particular group of people?
  • how will you recruit them to participate in your research?
  • what you will ask them? And how will you ask?
  • what language you will ask them in? Do you need an interpreter? Will you tape (audio/video) your conversations?
  • what risks might your subjects encounter by participating in your research? How will your research benefit them?

Fifth, when you're ready, begin preparing the IRB application. The application will consist of a form, along with attachments you've prepared on your rationale and protocol (including answers to all of the above questions). Translations must be included.

Be sure to leave at least two months in between the time of your application and the time you will begin interviewing/surveying your subjects. You MUST receive approval before you can move forward with your research.

For more information, see OSU's IRB website.

For guidance on completing the IRB application, contact IRB, talk to your thesis advisor and/or feel free to contact the International Degree Office.