Institutional Review Board

Institutional Review Board

IRB research proposal applications are due ONE WEEK (7 business days) PRIOR to IRB meetings.

Notification of edits/approvals will be given via email one week (7 business days) after meeting dates. 

The IRB committee does not meet in the month of December.

2021-2022 IRB Committee Meetings

Fall Spring Summer
September 23 January 20 May 26
October 19 February 17 June 23
November 18 March 31 July 21
April 21 August 25

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 responsibility 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. Any research that meets the definition of research meaning it’s designed to “develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge” and the data will be used for publication or conference presentation to “forward the field” requires IRB review. 

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.
  4. is used for program development only.

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

  1. STEP ONE: Complete Protecting Human Research Participants training. 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 2-3 hour training course. The cost of the training is approximately $50. Full-time faculty members can receive reimbursement of the course expense by submitting their receipt to the Provost. All others should seek reimbursement protocol via their departments prior to registering for the course. Researchers will attach certificate proof of online training completion to their individual IRB Proposal Application along with recording the certificate # on the designated line provided. Proof of certification will be needed as a FIRST STEP in the IRB proposal procedure.

2. STEP TWO: 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.

3. STEP THREE: Attach any addendum items that research participants will be subject to during the research process. This would include demographic questionnaires, consent forms, questions from assessments, interview questions, etc.

For the Demographic Questionnaire – please use the standardized, NU approved categories:

Race/Ethnicity Categories (Census/ APA Manual, 7th edition, Section 5.7)  

Check all that apply:  

Ethnically of Hispanic/Latino origin 

White/European American   

Black/African American  


American Indian/Alaska Native  

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 


Other:  ____________  

Gender (APA Manual, 7th edition, Section 5.5, pg. 138)  

              Cisgender Male  

              Cisgender Female  

              Transgender Male  

              Transgender Female  

              Prefer Not to Answer  




                Prefer Not to Answer  

Each human participate research project must include a consent form/letter. Every consent form requires that researchers address the following items:

  • Purpose of the study
  • Any reasonably foreseeable risks (psychological, social, etc.)
  • Potential benefits to the individual or others
  • Alternatives to the research protocol
  • Extent of confidentiality protection for the individual
  • Compensation for participation
  • Contact information for questions regarding the study (researcher, advisor, IRB Chair, etc)
  • Conditions of participation, including right to refuse or withdraw without penalty
  • Whether research material could be de-identified and used for other research without additional consent, if possible

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

Consent Form Examples/Templates:

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.