Institutional Review Board
Welcome to the web site of the Middlebury College Institutional Review Board (IRB)!
If you are doing research that involves working with living human beings, you may need to get permission from the IRB before you begin.
The IRB exists to protect people who participate in original research conducted at Middlebury College or by a member of the College community. Research that involves interviewing other people, distributing surveys, conducting experiments on people, or even observing particular people in their daily lives is normally what we call "research on human subjects," and all such research requires some level of approval from the IRB.
Research on human subjects—systematic collection of personal or private information from living human beings—can be done in virtually any discipline. Biological studies sometimes involve human subjects, while sociological, anthropological, and psychological studies often do. Increasingly, research in the humanities—like religion, language studies, and history—involves human subjects.
Much of the time, research that Middlebury College students, faculty, or staff conduct is fairly benign, and the IRB will review it quickly. Sometimes, though, research entails enough risk, or confidentiality is so important, that the IRB must ensure that you include adequate protections. The IRB will evaluate your research plans to make sure that nothing you intend to do is unjustifiably dangerous to your participants and that their rights to participate (or not) are respected. Sometimes the IRB will recommend changes to your procedures to better protect your subjects, and the committee will approve your research only when adequate protections are in place.
Please browse this web site to determine whether you need to apply for IRB approval of your research. The links to the left will help you determine whether your research qualifies as research on human subjects, get answers to frequently asked questions, and download the application form.
If you have other questions, please send them to IRB@middlebury.edu.