The Smith College Institutional Review Board (IRB) upholds the principles of respect, beneficence and justice, with established guidelines to ensure that human research participants are treated with dignity, respect and with due regard for their welfare. We are committed to safeguarding and upholding the rights and welfare of all people who volunteer to participate in research.
Principles of Ethical Research Involving Humans
“Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research,” better known as “The Belmont Report,” was created by the former United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare—now known as Health and Human Services (HHS)—and is an important historical document in the field of medical ethics. The report was created on April 18, 1979, and gets its name from the Belmont Conference Center, formerly a part of the Smithsonian Institution and located in Elkridge, Maryland, where the document was drafted.
“The Belmont Report” explains the unifying ethical principles that form the basis for the National Commission’s topic-specific reports and the regulations that incorporate its recommendations. The three fundamental ethical principles for all research involving human subjects are
- Respect for persons: protecting the autonomy of all people and treating them with courtesy and respect;
- Beneficence: maximizing good outcomes for humanity and research subject, while minimizing or avoiding risks or harm; and
- Justice: ensuring reasonable, nonexploitative, and well-considered procedures are administered fairly.
Those principles remain the basis for the HHS human subject protection regulations, and the Institutional Review Board is responsible for upholding them by reviewing all research involving human participants before it begins. Read the full Belmont Report.
The IRB is required to review allegations of misconduct and to take action to protect human subjects. Please contact the IRB Chair or file a Participant Complaint Form if you have a concern about a research project. Reviewing complaints and allegations of noncompliance is critical to the IRB's ability to protect human subjects. A climate free of fear of sanction is required to foster appropriate reports and ensure a fair review of allegations. Retaliation against good faith “whistleblowers” is illegal and will not be tolerated at this institution.
Please note that not all proposals need to be reviewed during full board meetings. Please see information on the Application Process page and review procedures for details.
The IRB will meet monthly during the academic year. The IRB office remains open to handle questions and expedited or exempt proposals that do not require full board consideration, as well. If you are planning to submit something for full board review (prior to our meetings), it would be helpful to let us know by email.
Please Note: Our full board meeting agendas sometimes fill up a month in advance, so it is best to submit your proposal well in advance of the deadline and/or be in contact with us prior to the meeting or submission.
IRB Fall Semester 2023 Meeting Schedule
- Monday, September 11th
- Monday, October 2nd
- Monday, November 6th
- Monday, December 4th
Mentor IRB Software
Smith College is using the Mentor IRB system for IRB protocol submission and management. New researchers are encouraged to make an appointment to meet with the IRB Coordinator, Sherry Wingfield and she will help advise you on the approval process, required documents, best practices, and more. Please refer to the Application Process page for more information about preparing and submitting a proposal through the system.
The Smith College IRB will provide educational workshops for groups of faculty, staff or students who want to learn more about the IRB review process and ask questions related to their planned research involving human subjects. If you are interested in this type of workshop, please contact the IRB coordinator or Nnamdi Pole, IRB chair.
Protocol Submission for Full Board Review
For studies with higher risks and/or which involve vulnerable populations:
It is always good to be in touch by email to let us know to expect research protocols that will likely need full IRB review. Generally, protocols requiring full board review need to be submitted at least a week before the full board meets.
- Nnamdi Pole, Psychology (Committee Chair)
- Shannon Audley, Education and Child Study
- Katherine Clemans, Psychology
- Jay Garfield, Philosophy
- Leslie Jaffe, MD, Community member
- Hannah Karpman, School for Social Work
- Beth Ward, Community member