What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?
The role of an IRB is to foster ethical treatment of human research participants. Before IRBs were instituted as a national standard, some researchers conducted studies that resulted in serious and unwelcomed consequences for the participants. For these researchers, the potential gained knowledge overshadowed the harm done to the participants. IRBs have since been instituted to make sure a balance exists between harm to subjects and potential gain.
The IRB at Bard Institutional Review Boards function in three ways:
Intellectual activities that are governed by IRBs are only those which meet ALL three of the following criteria:
- by educating the community about commonly accepted standards for the ethical treatment of volunteer research participants,
- by fostering discussion about how those general principles apply in particular cases and the balance between the risks to research participants and the long-term benefits of the research, and
- by reviewing ongoing research to ensure that it complies with commonly accepted practices and standards.
If you aren’t sure whether your research must be reviewed by the IRB, please check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.
- Research that produces generalizable or universal knowledge;
- Research that involves human participants;
- Research involving human participants that is required to be reviewed under existing IRB procedures.
All research carried out by Bard College faculty, staff, and students for which people are research participants must be carried out in accordance with Bard College IRB policies. The IRB will not consider proposals for research that has already been conducted.
Before data collection can begin on a project, the IRB must review and approve the methods and procedures that will be used. This includes proposals for:
- Faculty research
- Senior projects
- Research conducted outside of the classroom (e.g., independent projects)
- Class projects that serve as pilot studies
When a project is approved, the consent forms will be given a date stamp including the duration of approval (1 year, renewable). Once a project is approved, the content of the consent form and the experimental procedures should not be altered. If subsequent changes are necessary, an amendment must be filed specifying the changes. Approval for the changes must be received by the researcher before data collection can resume. To submit such a revision, email firstname.lastname@example.org
the revised protocol with changes highlighted and a cover letter explaining the general scope and rationale for the revisions.