Human Subject Protection

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee established to assist in protecting the rights and welfare of human participants involved in research activities. 

Emory & Henry is committed to protecting the rights of and ensuring the safety of human subjects participating in research conducted by faculty, staff and students.  The IRB reviews human subject research projects according to three principles of the Belmont Report: first, minimize the risk to human subjects (beneficence); second, ensure all subjects consent and are fully informed about the research and any risks (autonomy); third, promote equity in human subjects research (justice). All research involving human subjects should be reviewed by and approved by the IRB before the study is initiated. 

  • Definition of Human Subjects Research

    Human subjects research is any research or clinical investigation that involves human subjects.

    Investigators conducting human subjects research must satisfy DHHS regulations [45 CFR Part 46] and FDA regulations [21 CFR Part 50 and 56] regarding the protection of human subjects research, as applicable. When considering whether an activity meets the definition of human subjects research per DHHS regulations one must consider two federal definitions: research and human subject.

    Research is as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

    A “systematic investigation” is an activity that involves a prospective plan that incorporates data collection, either quantitative or qualitative, and data analysis to answer a question. 

    Examples of systematic investigations include:

    • surveys and questionnaires
    • interviews and focus groups
    • analyses of existing data or biological specimens
    • epidemiological studies
    • evaluations of social or educational programs
    • cognitive and perceptual experiments
    • medical chart review studies

    Investigations designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge are those designed to draw general conclusions, inform policy, or generalize findings beyond a single individual or an internal program (e.g., publications or presentations). However, research results do not have to be published or presented to qualify the experiment or data gathering as research. The intent to contribute to “generalizable (scholarly) knowledge” makes an experiment or data collection research, regardless of publication. Research that never is published is still research. Participants in research studies deserve protection whether or not the research is published.

    Examples of activities that typically are not generalizable include:

    • biographies
    • oral histories that are designed solely to create a record of specific historical events
    • service or course evaluations, unless they can be generalized to other individuals
    • services, courses, or concepts where it is not the intention to share the results beyond the Emory & Henry community
    • classroom exercises solely to fulfill course requirements or to train students in the use of particular methods or devices
    • quality assurance activities designed to continuously improve the quality or performance of a department or program where it is not the intention to share the results beyond the Emory & Henry community

    human subject is as a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual; or (2) identifiable private information.

    • Intervention includes both physical procedures by which data are gathered (e.g., venipuncture) and manipulations of the subject or the subject’s environment that are performed for research purposes.
    • Interaction includes communication or interpersonal contact between investigator and subject.
    • Private information includes information about behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record). Private information must be individually identifiable (i.e., the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information) in order for obtaining the information to constitute research involving human subjects.
  • Does this need to be reviewed by the IRB?

    There are several resources to help you with this. We now have a “Human Subjects Research Determination Form” to help you with this question.  This form, will ask you a series of questions to help determine whether your project should be reviewed by the IRB.

    In addition, the  Office Of Human Research Protections (OHRP) has decision charts to help you decide whether an application should be submitted to the IRB and what kind of application it will be (exempt, expedited, or full board).  We apply the regulations regardless of funding so that step in the decision chart does not apply.

Exempt and Expedited Studies are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.

Studies meeting exempt criteria (click on the hyperlink above for the exempt categories)  and Human Subject Determinations requiring official documentation are processed within 7- 10 business days. For expedited submissions (clink hyperlink above for the expedited categories), researchers will receive initial IRB feedback within 10-14 business days. Time to approval, however, varies depending on required revisions. 


Full Board Studies

Studies requiring Full Board Review:

  • Do not fit in exempt or expedited categories
  • Are more than minimal risk
  • May involve collection of sensitive data and/or use of vulnerable populations

Meeting Dates for Fall 2018

Wed Sept 19, 2018
Wed Oct  24, 2018
Wed Nov 28, 2018
 Fri   Dec   7, 2018

Meeting Dates for Spring 2019, TBA

Researchers must submit protocols at least 2 weeks prior to the full board meetings once meeting dates are established.   

Need some advice about your IRB submission please either email us at or give us a call at 276-944-6921.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or concerns about IRB processes please email the IRB at