Skip to main content

Researchers External to Swarthmore College

Researchers external to Swarthmore College wishing to conduct research on Swarthmore faculty, staff, and/ or students must secure permission prior to initiating any research with the Swarthmore community. 

External Researchers with Approval from their Institution:

External researchers who have secured approval from their institution’s own Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Ethics Review Committee (ERC), who propose to use members of the Swarthmore community as research participants must request permission from either the Swarthmore Dean of Student’s Office for student members and/ or the Provost’s Office for faculty and staff members. Permission requests may be made through email or the U.S. postal service. Such a request must include: 

  • the researcher’s contact information, including email and mailing address,

  • the anticipated start/ end dates the Swarthmore community will be engaged,

  • all materials approved by the researcher’s institution (e.g., application, consent documents, recruitment materials),

  • a copy of the Principal Investigator’s experience/ expertise related to the research (e.g., resume, CV),

  • a copy of research training for the Principal Investigator’s and all other key personnel assisting with research conduct (e.g., Social and Behavioral Research Investigator’s course through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program), and

  • a copy of the IRB or ERC approval letter.

During the review of such a request, the Dean or Provost may consult with the Swarthmore College IRB or other relevant department(s) to ensure ethical standards have adequately been addressed. Should the Dean or Provost grant permission for research to be conducted among the College community, a signed approval letter with an expiration date will be drafted and forwarded to the Swarthmore IRB ( in addition to the other materials submitted for the request. 

The IRB Office staff will upload and manage all relevant materials, including the signed approval letter, in the electronic IRBManager system under the category ‘External_Approved by Dean/ Provost’. The expiration date of the permission period will be tracked through the IRBManager system and may be set for as late as one year after the date of the approval letter from the Swarthmore Dean or Provost* or as early as the researcher’s IRB/ ERC approval period, set by the researcher’s institution and defined in the IRB/ ERC approval letter.

In the event the researcher wishes to continue research with Swarthmore community members beyond the Swarthmore approved permission period, the researcher is required to submit to the Swarthmore IRB ( a summary of the research progress- including any relevant information, especially about risks, not previously reported to the IRB; unanticipated problems; adverse events; research complaints; any suspension, termination, disapproved, or research that was placed on hold for any reason; and a continued approval letter from the researcher’s IRB/ ERC, if IRB oversight is required (e.g., approved under the expedited or full board review process), prior to the expiration date. The researcher must secure continued permission from the IRB before conducting any research with Swarthmore community members beyond the expiration date. 

External Researchers Needing IRB/ERC Approval

(Note: the Dean and/ or Provost often deny these requests unless they see an exceptional reason to proceed) 

External researchers who have not secured approval from their institution’s own IRB or ERC, who propose to use members of the Swarthmore community as research participants must secure approval from the Swarthmore IRB prior to engaging in the research. To apply to the Swarthmore IRB, the external researcher must obtain a Swarthmore College research sponsor/ Principal Investigator (i.e., must be a multi-year or tenure/tenure-track faculty member, or appropriate supervisory staff member), who will hold primary responsibility for the conduct of research on campus, as defined under the Investigator and Principal Investigator Responsibilities.

All researchers will need to complete and submit proof of their research training (e.g., Social and Behavioral Research Investigator’s course through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) program) as part of the submission process and will be required to comply with all relevant and applicable policies and procedures set forth by any local, state, or federal laws or regulations- including Swarthmore College policies and procedures. 

*This approval period should only be utilized if the research was approved by the researcher’s IRB/ ERC under an exempt level of review, as defined under 45 CFR 46.101, or in the event the Swarthmore Dean/ Provost and/ or IRB is unable to identify the established approval period defined by the researcher’s IRB/ ERC. This approval period does not supersede any previously established approval period set forth by one’s own IRB/ ERC.