Office of Research & Creative Scholarship
Human Subjects Review/IRB
The mission of the Emerson College Human Research Subjects Committee/Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to ensure quality research involving human subjects conducted under the auspices of the College. The IRB is guided by ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report (1979) and legal mandates outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 45, Part 46 (2009).
All researchers that utilize human participants, whether for in-class projects, surveys, interviews, or research projects must submit application materials for review by the IRB. These might include individual professional research projects, individual student assignment projects, or student classroom projects.
The main purpose of the IRB is to ensure the protection of human subjects through the review, approval, modification, or disapproval of research applications submitted by faculty, staff, or students. The IRB is responsible for communication, record keeping, reporting, monitoring, education of the campus community about ethical issues, and the overseeing of all research activity involving human subjects.
Researchers include faculty members, staff, and students. An application must be filled out and submitted by an Emerson employee or student, even if the research proposal originates at another institution or organization seeking partnership or a co-investigator. Submissions must include a description of the research instruments.
Researchers are also required to take the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online Responsible Conduct of Research training through Emerson College's subscription.
See below for information on:
- IRB Members
- Informed Consent
- Misconduct Policy
- Research Integrity Training Policy
The IRB deadlines for submission of materials for research involving human subjects is the first of the month for October, November, and December for the fall semester; the first of the month for February, March, and April for the spring semester; and the first of the month for June, July, and August for the summer terms. The IRB will respond to all submissions no later than the 15th of the same month, following each submission deadline.
Because the IRB does not meet in the summer, expedited reviews will be conducted on materials submitted by June 1, July 1, and August 1. If there is a need for a full committee review in the summer, available members will conduct the review. Faculty members conducting summer courses requiring summer review should notify the dean of graduate studies before the course begins to arrange expeditious reviews.
Applications may be ruled exempt, approved through an expedited review, sent back to the project investigator (PI) for modifications, approved by the full committee, or denied. In all cases, reasons will be given for the action so the PI may make necessary changes for resubmission or modification.
Multi-year projects may not be approved only once. Researchers must resubmit their projects for approval each year, or when the level of risk for human subjects changes.
Members of the 2012–2013 IRB are:
- Elizabeth Demski, MBA; Associate Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship, Chair
- Amit Bajaj, PhD; Communication Sciences and Disorders
- Miranda Banks, PhD; Visual and Media Arts (Spring 2013 only)
- Dr. Timothy Edgar, PhD; Health Communication
- Susan Koch, ScM, ScD; Tufts University School of Medicine, external member
- Christina Marin, PhD; Performing Arts (Fall 2012 only)
- Richard Zauft, MFA; Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies
Send questions about the process, submitted materials, or inquires to Human_Subjects@emerson.edu, with the subject line "Human Research Subjects Proposal - [Your Full Name]."
Informed consent means subjects have been provided with the necessary information about the research and consequences of their participation, and can use this information to decide whether they are willing to participate. At minimum, subjects need to know that the activity is a research project, have an understanding of the project’s processes, risks, objectives, and benefits; and know that they are free to withdraw at any time without any penalties. Special arrangements must be made if subjects have limited capacity to understand the above and thus, give informed consent. Minors cannot give informed consent. View the Informed Consent Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
All research involving interaction with human subjects requires informed consent. That the data is collected from friends or colleagues does not waive this requirement. Any deviation of this must be approved by the IRB. The IRB does not generally approve such projects and never approves withholding prior explanation of risks.
Before submitting an application, the IRB recommends that students, faculty, and researchers read the Belmont Report and the Basic Health and Human Services policy for Protection of Human Subjects.
Federal regulations may require researchers to obtain a certificate from an online tutorial regarding research with human subjects. Proposers who regularly conduct research involving human subjects should get certification, which is available from the Office for Human Research Protections website.
Emerson College is committed to the highest ethical standards in research as well as teaching, creative activities, and publication. Anyone in the Emerson community who is directly involved with these activities bears the primary responsibility for ethical pursuits of knowledge. Persons found guilty of willful misconduct are subject to disciplinary action by the College.