The Institutional Review Board

About the Institutional Review Board

The Swarthmore College Institutional Review Board (IRB) is charged with reviewing human subject research. Swarthmore College is committed to protecting the rights, welfare, and privacy of individuals participating as subjects in research.

The Swarthmore IRB is guided by the ethical principles set forth in the Belmont Report, federal regulations (e.g., DHHS regulations 45 CFR Part 46), state or local laws, and College policies. In accordance with these principles, the IRB strives to create a culture of respect for, and awareness of, the rights and welfare of research participants. This is accomplished through continual education of our faculty and student researchers, collaboration and open dialogue between researchers and the IRB, and through the shared obligation to protect human subjects while still fostering the scholarly pursuits of the College community.

Fulfilling our obligation to uphold the ethical principles and regulations is critical for several reasons:

  • Compliance with the procedures outlined by the regulations provides research subjects protection from harm that might result from their participation in research.
  • Compliance with these procedures improves the overall quality of the research conducted at Swarthmore College.
  • Acknowledgment of the issues inherent in human subjects research and compliance with the regulations guiding human subjects research will allow faculty and student researchers to continue to conduct research on meaningful and culturally relevant topics. 
  • Many of the concepts outlined in the codes of conduct and ethical principles for research are equivalent to the core values of Swarthmore College including intellectual inquiry, social responsibility, civic engagement, and cultural awareness. Therefore, the protection of human subjects is a necessary means to uphold those values.