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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the IRB do?

The primary goal of the Fairfield University Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to protect the rights and welfare of people who participate as subjects in research activities conducted under the auspices of Fairfield University. Researchers submit proposals for their research to the IRB to review before the researcher begins recruiting or testing participants. The IRB performs prospective and continuing review of protocols, the informed consent process, and the procedures used to enroll subjects in order to ensure that the research is conducted ethically and in compliance with federal guidelines for research ethics and institutional requirements.

Who Can I Speak to For Guidance?

Visit the Contact page to get contact information for people affiliated with the IRB to guide you in various stages of the process. It is often helpful for new researchers to email the IRB Chair and arrange a phone call to talk about the work they are planning and how to submit it.

The names of the current IRB members can be found under the “About” tab, and speaking with any of them can also be useful. In addition, contact the Center for Academic Excellence for information about who is serving as Faculty Research Consultant. The Faculty Research Consultant is available to assist faculty with designing and implementing different research designs (e.g., what kind of designs are best suited to the specific questions researchers have), advise on statistical analyses, advise on ethical considerations of different research designs, and advise on avenues for internal research support.

What Is the Timeframe For Review?

The Fairfield IRB meets once a month during the academic year. Protocols that are minimal risk and that qualify for review under exempt or expedited procedures are reviewed year round and generally are processed within 2 weeks of submission. Protocols that require full board review are reviewed at the monthly meetings only during the academic year.

I Already Know My Research is Considered Exempt. Do I Still Have to Submit?

That would be a “yes.” The Fairfield University Journal of Record notes that the IRB "shall be the sole interpreter of when research falls outside its purview and what research is exempt per the federal regulations." Research that you believe qualifies for Exempt status should be submitted to the IRB so that it can determine if it does indeed qualify. There are other types of research that do not fall under IRB domain, such as assessment work and what is considered institutional research. Information about this is available on the IRB info page, including how to deal with student research.

Is Ethics Training Available to Researchers?

Yes, Fairfield University subscribes to CITI Program for Research Ethics and Compliance Training. Visit the CITI Program website and create an account using Fairfield University as your affiliation. There are several courses available to faculty and students, with different courses for different types of research (e.g., the Social-Behavioral-Educational [SBE] Basic Course, the Biomedical [Biomed] Basic Course).

In addition, the National Institutes of Health offers an Online Training Course, and the U.S Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) offers training videos and tutorials.