Research Exempt from IRB Review

The most common type of research conducted at Vassar that is exempt from IRB review is the following:

“Research involving the use of educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of public behavior, unless:
(i) information obtained is recorded in such a manner that human subjects can be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the subjects; and (ii) any disclosure of the human subjects' responses outside the research could reasonably place the subjects at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subjects' financial standing, employability, or reputation.” 

Note that not all of the above categories of research are exempt if the participants are minors.  A full list of the types of research that are exempt from IRB review can be found here (see section b).

Note that if a project doesn’t constitute research, then it is also exempt from IRB review.  The HHS defines research as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” 

If you are in any doubt as to whether your project qualifies for exempt status, you must contact the IRB for a determination by emailing a description of your project to the IRB administrator before collecting any data.  Students should always consult with a faculty member and/or the IRB before making this judgment. 

Research Eligible for Expedited IRB Review

Expedited review means that the proposal can be reviewed by one member of the IRB committee.  The most common type of research conducted at Vassar that is eligible for expedited IRB review is the following: 

“Research on individual or group characteristics or behavior (including, but not limited to, research on perception, cognition, motivation, identity, language, communication, cultural beliefs or practices, and social behavior) or research employing survey, interview, oral history, focus group, program evaluation, human factors evaluation, or quality assurance methodologies.”

Research must pose no more than minimal risk in order to be eligible for expedited review.  A full list of the types of research that can receive expedited review from the IRB can be found here

Research Requiring Full IRB Review 

Research that does not fall in the exempt or expedited category must undergo review by the full IRB committee.  This includes any research judged to pose more than minimal risk, which is defined as risks no greater than those commonly encountered in daily activities.  Research involving active deception and/or certain participant groups (e.g., minors under 18 years of age, pregnant women, prisoners, or undocumented individuals) is more likely to require full review.