Institutional Review Board

What is the Institutional Review Board?

The Institutional Review Board is a committee that is designed to regulate care of participants in research.  In particular, the job of the IRB is to establish and enforce ethical guidelines that protect participants from harm, and respect their personal dignity.  The IRB also takes great care in protecting the rights of those individuals who have limited understanding of the risks of their participation or who have diminished decision making abilities.

Why was an IRB established at Northwest University?

As the number and sophistication of academic programs have grown at Northwest University, more and more professors and students engage in research that involves people as participants.  Current federal policy stipulates both the necessity of the review process as well as the composition of the review board.  Any institution that uses humans as research subjects must have such a board.

What type of projects are subject to review by the IRB?

All potential research projects (including projects conducted by students as part of a class assignment) that involve the use of human participants need to be reviewed by this board prior to their implementation, unless they meet the criteria for exemption listed below:

  1. The study is held in an educational setting and includes examining practical educational practices, such as research on instructional preferences, or classroom management.
  2. Research is made up of either educational testing or observations of people, as long as the identity of the individuals is kept anonymous.
  3. The individuals involved know they are either being observed in a public setting or are taking an educational exam.
  4. The study consists of using only previously collected documents, records, or other data available to the public.

How do I submit a project for review?

Review applications will be available on the Provost’s Website.  Two types of applications exist.  The abbreviated review application is a short form specifically created for the review of class projects.  To be eligible for this expedited review projects must not involve deception, potentially embarrassing or harmful situations, special populations (such as minors), or medical procedures.  For all other projects, please use the regular review form.  If you have a group of class projects that will need to be reviewed please coordinate ahead of time with the committee so as to minimize the time necessary for review.  All completed projects and/or questions should be sent to