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Writing a Proposal

In order to apply to the IRB for research approval, most researchers will need to submit a proposal consisting of two main components: the IRB Research Proposal Form and Documentation of Informed Consent.

The IRB Research Proposal Form

The Research Proposal Form contains two elements:

  1. The Documentation of Review and Approval of Research Project Involving Human Participants
    1. This is the first page of your proposal and requests contact information for the researcher, faculty adviser, and general information about the project.
    2. It also requires the signature of the researcher, and for all student research, the signature of a faculty adviser who has reviewed and approved the proposal as submitted.
    3. This page should be printed separately, signed, and submitted as a hard copy.
  1. Description of Research Project Involving Human Participants
    1. This section of the form asks for specific information regarding your research project. Each question walks you through various elements of your project relevant to the IRB review. Please answer every question, doing so in clear, concise, self-explanatory language so that IRB reviewers, who may not be familiar with your subject area, will readily understand the proposed research.
    2. A research proposal must indicate that adequate provisions will be made for the protection of the rights and welfare of prospective research participants (including but not limited to the rights to Informed Consent and Confidentiality), and that pertinent policies and regulations will be observed. Your answers to the specific questions on the proposal will allow the IRB to evaluate whether your proposed research fully addresses these concerns.
    3. Detailed instructions for completing this form are located on the Instructions link below.
    4. The IRB proposal form can be downloaded from the Forms and Templates page of this website.

    Additional Considerations

Documentation of Informed Consent

The goal of the Informed Consent process is to ensure that the research subject is treated with respect and human dignity. The process does this by safeguarding and advocating for the subject's right to deliberate and make a knowing decision whether to cooperate with the investigator's research interest. Smith College requires that every researcher (whether student, faculty or staff) secure the written informed consent of any human subject used in research before involving that subject in the research project, unless a waiver of written consent is requested and approved by the IRB.

Templates and directions for Participant Consent, Parental Consent, and Participant Assent are provided on the links below and are a valuable resource for ensuring an appropriate consent process.

Download Consent/Assent Templates

  • It is imperative that all researchers review the Application Process section of this website before attempting to write a proposal or create a consent document. The Research Methods and Informed Consent sub-sections of this site augment the required CITI training and provide more extensive information on various elements of the proposal and consent development process.
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