Office of Research Compliance

Frequently Asked Questions - Human Subjects Research 

Q. How do I submit for review?

Find the appropriate form on the FORMS page, complete the form, and submit to the Office of Research Compliance in RTEC 117.

Q. When should I submit?

Research proposals are routed for review in a first in/first out basis.  Many studies qualify for exempt or expedited review, and thus go straight to a reviewer.  Studies that are deemed to be greater than minimal risk will be reviewed in a convened meeting of one of two committees (Biomedical or Social/Behavioral).  Each committee meets once per month and there is a submission deadline to be included on each month's agenda. 

Click Here for the meeting schedule and deadlines.

Q. Is there any training required?

All researchers conducting human subjects research must complete the online training module and submit proof of completion with the project outline form. Click Here to access the online training modules.

Q.  Can I go ahead and line up my participants while I'm waiting for approval?

A.  No.  One of the responsibilities of the IRB is to ensure that selection of participants is equitable and that safeguards are in place to ensure that there is no pressure or coercion to participate.  Because this can occur in the recruitment process, you must wait for IRB approval prior to any contact with the participants, including recruitment.

Q.  Is it necessary to have a consent form for a survey?

A.  It is necessary for the consent process to occur for a survey, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a formal, signed consent form.  Often times, an introductory letter or paragraph to a survey can include the elements of consent required.  This presentation should include:

- A statement that this data is being collected for research purposes through Ohio University.

- A statement that completion is voluntary.

- A time estimate for completion.

- A statement that completion and return of the survey implies consent to use the data for research purposes.

- If applicable, a statement that participants must be 18 years of age or older.  Note: survey research cannot be exempted for minors (under 18 years old).

Q.  What if I only have a draft of my questionnaire?

A.  Submit it, clearly marked as a 'DRAFT'.  This will give the committee an idea of the types of information you intend to collect.  After you have finalized the document, submit a copy of it to the Office of Research Compliance. 

Q.  What is the difference between anonymous and confidential?

A.  Anonymous means entirely without name OR identifier, so the individual cannot be discerned in any way.  No one (not even the researcher) can link an individual person to the responses of that person.   Confidential means that the investigator can (or could) identify individuals who participated in a study, perhaps through a code.  Although the identities will be recorded, the information will only be used for specific purposes related to the project and outlined to the participant in the consent form.

Q.  When is a letter of support needed?

A.  A letter of support is needed when the study will be conducted at a site outside of Ohio University, i.e. Athens City Schools, Planned Parenthood, etc.  If you wanted to conduct interviews at Planned Parenthood, you would need a letter of support.  If you simply wish to advertise your study at Planned Parenthood, you would not need a letter of support.  You likely still need permission from Planned Parenthood, but don't need to provide a copy of that to the IRB.  Similarly, if you wish to conduct a research study at Baker Center, you likely need permission from Baker Center, but don't need to provide a copy to the IRB.  Letter of support from school districts need to come from the administration of the school, i.e. principal, superintendent, etc.

Q.  What is the difference between an investigator and a research assistant?

A.  An investigator contributes to the scientific development or conduct of a project in a substantive, measureable way.A research assistant has a specialized, more defined role in the study, with a less substantive contribution to scientific development or conduct of a project. 

Q.  When is an advisor required for a submission?

A.  Whenever a student is listed as the primary investigator, a faculty advisor must be included with the submission.

Q.  Can I submit my form electronically?

A.  Yes, if you have the capability to scan the signature pages, all forms and relevant appendices can be submitted by email to

Click here to see Description of Review Levels

Click Here to read Ohio University's policy on human subjects research.

Need help?  For more information on research involving human subjects, email or call 740-593-0664.