Institutional Review Board - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need IRB oversight for a class project? 

A: Allowing students to conduct research is an exciting opportunity for both them and the instructor. Some class projects will not need the oversight of the IRB, but others may require such oversight. You may not need to have your students apply to the IRB if the project:

  1. Does not add to the general knowledge of the discipline
  2. Will not be presented outside the context of the class
  3. Has no foreseeable risk to the parties involved, and the data of interest are not of a sensitive nature

Some examples of such projects include public naturalistic observations with no interaction with the participants, the informational interviews done by Gateways students and classroom demonstrations of experiments.

If any of the above points is not true of your project, then some form of IRB oversight is probably needed. If in doubt about your particular project, please contact the IRB.

Q: Do I need IRB oversight for administrative data gathering? 

A: The IRB does not review administrative data gathering that has no scientific purpose, but that is used solely for the betterment of the program or the students involved.

Q: What is the relationship between the IRB and the Office of Sponsored Programs? 

A: If seeking externally funded research that involves the use of human subjects, then IRB approval needs to be acquired prior to proposal approval by the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Q: What are the different risk categories? 

A: The University of Tampa IRB considers applications within three risk categories: exempt, expedited and full:

  1. The Exempt Risk Category, generally speaking, involves research on normal adult participants, where the anonymity of responses is assured, and that data gathered is not of a sensitive nature. The participant is free of foreseeable risk. The term “exempt” is somewhat misleading because exempt proposals must be submitted to the IRB and be granted exemption status before data collection of subject recruitment begins.
  1. The Expedited Risk Category involves research where anonymity cannot be assured, involves deception, or that involves children under some circumstances. The participant is placed under no more risk than what would be expected that he or she would encounter in everyday life.
  1. The Full Risk Category involves all other research (e.g., research that involves certain special populations, involves asking questions of a sensitive nature, or that places the participant in more than minimal physical, psychological, or other risk).

The University of Tampa IRB Guidelines contains a fuller explanation for each risk category.

Q: What are the procedures to follow depending on risk category? 

A: Once you have determined the risk category of your research, you need to follow the appropriate procedures with the IRB:

  1. Exempt Risk Category: Fill out the Exempt Risk IRB Application Form. In order for the research to be considered Exempt, the IRB chair must concur, with the oversight of one other member. All members of the IRB will be advised of proposals accepted as exempt. Minimum approval time: four working days.
  1. Expedited Risk Category: The completed Expedited and Full Risk IRB Application Form is reviewed by the chairperson and two members of the IRB appointed by the chairperson, and approved unless one or both of the reviewers recommends disapproval or more information, in which case the proposal is sent for full review. All members of the IRB will be advised of proposals accepted as expedited. Proposals subject to expedited review cannot be disapproved. Minimum approval time: eight working days.
  1. Full Risk Category: The completed Expedited and Full Risk IRB Application Form requires the input from all members of the IRB. Minimum approval time: 16 working days.

The approval times are estimates only. It is more important for the IRB to provide accurate oversight of research conducted by UT members than speed at processing proposals.

Questions not answered by this document may be directed to irb@ut.edu.