Does my project need to be reviewed by the IRB?

If you are doing research on human subjects, then you must submit your research project application to the IRB for approval prior to starting. In accordance with federal regulations, the Bellevue College IRB must review all research involving human subjects.

Use the following questions to determine if your project needs to be reviewed by the IRB:

  1. How do I know if I am doing research?
  2. How do I know if I am using people?

Question 1: How do I know if I am doing research?

Research is a systematic investigation designed to develop knowledge that can be generalized. If you plan to present or publish the work or otherwise share results of the study, it is probably research.

Are you planning to present the data from the project on human subjects at an academic conference, publish the data in an academic journal, or use the human subjects research data in a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation?

If NO: your project is not considered research and does not require IRB review.
If YES: your project is considered research and requires IRB review. It may however be exempt.

Note 1: If your project is not hypothesis-driven, does not use research protocols and methodologies, and the anticipated data are not intended for publication of an article in a newspaper or magazine, no IRB review is needed 

Note 2: If no public dissemination is planned at the time the data is gathered, but the possibility of future dissemination exists, you are advised to submit the project for IRB review and approval before initiating the research project.

Question 2: How do I know if I am using people?

Human participants are defined as: living individual(s) about whom an investigator conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual; or (2) identifiable private information.

Does your project involve subjects/participants or data identifiable to specific human subjects?

Some examples of subjects/participants include:

  • individuals who are asked to complete questionnaires, participate in interviews, or whose behavior is observed in daily activities
  • oral history interviewees whose subjective perceptions are studied
  • students and teachers observed in the classroom for the study of various teaching methods or development of curricula

If NO: you do NOT need IRB approval
If YES: Your projects most likely needs IRB review.

Last Updated February 1, 2023