Must I Apply?

If your answer to all of the following questions is "yes," then you must apply for IRB approval of your research:

1. Are you a member of the Middlebury faculty or staff, or a Middlebury student, or will your research involve working with persons who are members of the Middlebury community, or with unpublished data collected from members of the Middlebury community?

2. Are you doing original research?

3. Are you working with human subjects?

We define a human subject this way: in the context of original research, a living person about whom a researcher obtains either:

Please note that the IRB does not consider experts sharing facts or professional opinions in the area of their expertise to be human subjects.

Courses in which the curriculum consists substantially of independent student research (e.g., 500, 555, 600, 700) are subject to IRB approval, and each student engaged in research that involves human subjects must submit a protocol to the committee. Faculty members seeking approval for a course must submit an application for the course.

Students who conduct research as part of a regular course assignment need not submit a proposal, unless the instructor chooses to invite committee review. Nonetheless, each faculty member who engages in such instructional activities is expected to maintain professional standards, in accordance with his or her field, to protect any human subject.

The following activities are not considered original research and thus do not require IRB review:

  • works that deal entirely with secondary sources (public data sets are considered such secondary sources)
  • activities in which human subjects perform exclusively for instructional purposes (however, intent or attempts to publish data from such activities—at any time—converts these activities to original research involving human subjects)
  • data gathering to support fund-raising by the external affairs offices; market research for the purposes of admissions recruiting; recruiting efforts for faculty or staff; statistical data collected to manage institutional affairs; and attitudinal research among alumni, students, or parents
  • journalism
  • oral history
  • information collected for entertainment purposes