Institutional Review Board

Institutional Review Board

IRB research proposal applications are due by the last business day of each month, and will be reviewed no later than the final week of the following month (except July and December).

Fall 2020 Meetings: TBD

What is the IRB?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee designed to regulate care of participants in research conducted by members of the Northwest University community: faculty, staff, students, and doctoral candidates.

The job of the IRB is to establish and enforce ethical guidelines that protect human participants from harm, respect their dignity, and ensure the appropriate treatment and use of non-human subjects (animals). The IRB especially seeks to protect those who have limited understanding of the risks of their participation or who have diminished decision-making abilities. Current federal policy stipulates both the necessity and requirements of institutional research boards. Further, the NU IRB has outlined principles and practices specific to Northwest University.

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

All potential research projects using human participants (including those conducted by students as part of a class assignment) need to be reviewed by this board prior to their implementation, unless they meet the criteria for exempt status.

A study is exempt if it

  1. is held in an educational setting and examines practical educational practices.
  2. consists of passive observation of participants whose identity is kept anonymous.
  3. uses only previously collected, anonymous documents & records, or data available to the public.

I’m planning a research project. Where do I start?

In order to assure safe and ethical research practices, all Northwest faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students intending to conduct human participant research must complete an online training course (beginning August, 2020). Each researcher should go to to complete the three hour training course. Researchers will attach certificate proof of online training completion to their individual IRB Proposal Application.

Proof of certification will be needed as a first step in the IRB proposal procedure. The second step in the process is to complete and submit an IRB Proposal Application. There are two levels of IRB application – full and abbreviated (often called “the short form”).  Answer these questions about your study; if the answer to any question(s) is yes, you must use the Full Application. Otherwise, use the Abbreviated Application.

Guidance about how to complete the form itself can be found in the NUIRB Application Instructions & Tips.

Don’t forget to create consent forms that are specific to your study and participants. Examples:

Once completed, submission of the IRB Proposal Application can be sent via email:

Updating Previously Approved IRB Proposal Application

To update a previously approved IRB Proposal Application take your original, approved application and simply add- “Update {date of edit} followed by an explanation and justification for the changes at the appropriate section(s) where necessary.

Once you have made the necessary changes, please resubmit it to the IRB committee and we’ll move quickly with our vetting and approval process.