Submitting an Application
When should you apply?
You should apply to the IRB as soon as you can (i.e. as soon as you have a clear picture of a project that might involve human subjects). You are not allowed to conduct human subjects research until you receive IRB approval.
Note that the full IRB committee does not meet over the summer. It may be possible to approve some less risky projects during that time, but you should definitely plan to avoid a summer application, and you should contact the board as soon as you can if this is absolutely unavoidable.
Students applying for Summer Research Opportunities, in need of IRB review and approval, are required to submit a completed application and supporting materials no later than April 1.
How long will it take?
The length of the application process will depend on how risky the board decides your project to be. The review of fully-prepared applications can take as long as eight weeks to complete for projects involving higher levels of risk, and researchers should not expect the review of any application to take less than two weeks. If a project needs to be reviewed at a full committee meetings, all materials must be submitted no later than 2 weeks prior to a scheduled full board meeting. To view IRB Committee meeting dates, see Important Dates tab on the top right of this web page.
How do you apply?
See "Apply to the IRB" tab on the top right of this page.
The form is designed to be as self-explanatory as possible, breaking your project description down into precisely the elements most relevant to protecting human subjects, and providing examples of the kinds of things the IRB wants to know.
The most important additional document will be the written form (or verbal 'script') that you use to ensure that participants are freely consenting to participate, on the basis of adequate information. The content of this 'informed consent' form/script has to conform to a set of Federal guidelines (see part E5 at the end of the application form), but it should be in a style and language appropriate to the project and the people involved.
- Tips on writing a form or script from the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Protection from Research Risks.
- Checklist of what to include in an application from the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Protection from Research Risks.
If you have any questions about the form and supporting materials, please contact the IRB office via email at IRB@swarthmore.edu.
What happens after handing in the form?
The board will review your application and get back to you with any comments, questions, or requests for additional information. You should respond to these as soon as you can. Once the board informs you that your project is approved, you can start your research. You will be able to monitor the status of your submitted materials.
How long does approval last?
Approval typically lasts for one year, or until the research is complete — whichever is shorter. If your project lasts longer than a year you must submit a continuting review application through IRB Manager