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Institutional Review Board

What is an Institutional Review Board?

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) performs critical oversight functions for research projects involving human subjects that are scientific, ethical, or regulatory in nature. In accordance with the Research Act of 1973, members of an IRB meet on an as needed basis to make informed decisions on whether various research projects are ethical, informed consent is sufficient, and appropriate safeguards have been put in place. Southwestern Community College is committed to safeguarding the rights and welfare of human subjects through the use of an Institutional Review Board. 

Federal Regulations Regarding the Protection of Human Subjects:

Regarding Research and Consent:

The SCC IRB has made available the following important documents for you to download and view.  Please click on the below links to download and view the .pdf files.

About the SCC Institutional Review Board

Institutional Review Board Committee:

Chair - Dr. Barbara Putman, Executive Dean of Instructional Services

  • Stephen Hesselbirg, Psychology Faculty
  • Hilary Seagle, Math Faculty
  • Andrea Stamper, Director of Institutional Research and Planning
  • Penny Wells, Health Information Technology Faculty

Types of Reviews & Forms

There are a number of variables that will determine if a research project needs to be reviewed by the IRB. Likewise, there are several different levels of review which are outlined below.

The actual forms are below for you to download. Click on the link to download and view the .pdf file.

Exempt Review

Research falls into one of six ‘exempt’ categories; involves less than minimal risk; has no vulnerable populations; Review by IRB Chair only.

Expedited Review

Research falls into one of seven ‘expedited’ categories; involves less than minimal risk; has vulnerable populations; Review by IRB Chair only.

Full Review

Research involves significant risk; has vulnerable populations; Full Committee review. 

Continuing Review

Annual review of ongoing projects; identify any additional protocols or changes; IRB Chair may review but could escalate to other review levels depending on changes. 


Continuing Review Questionnaire (Word Doc)

Continuing Review Questionnaire (PDF)

Exempt Protocol Form (Word Doc)

Exempt Protocol Form (PDF)

Expedited Review Form (Word Doc)

Expedited Review Form (PDF)

Full Review Form (Word Doc)

Full Review Form (PDF)

How do I know when to work with the IRB?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, you should contact the IRB Chair to discuss your project in more detail.

  • Does my project involve human subjects?
  • Is my project considered research?
  • Does my project involve more than minimal risk?
  • Does my project involve vulnerable populations?

Click here to view The IRB Guidebook.

Human Subjects: Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information. Private information includes information about behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record). Private information must be individually identifiable (i.e., the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information) in order for obtaining the information to constitute research involving human subjects.

Research: Research is defined as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

Minimal Risk: The definition of minimal risk is that the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests. Principal investigators have an obligation to protect persons from harm by maximizing anticipated benefits and minimizing possible risks of harm.

Vulnerable Populations: Vulnerable populations include such groups as children under the age of 18, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled persons, economically disadvantaged persons, and educationally disadvantaged persons.

If you have any question about your project it is imperative you contact the SCC IRB prior to beginning.

IRB FAQs for Honors Students

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