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Who Needs to Apply?

All research connected with members of the Smith College community must be reviewed and approved by the IRB. The Smith College IRB defines "research" as a systematic investigation—including research development, testing and evaluation—involving a living individual about whom you obtain:

  1. data through intervention or interaction, INCLUDING surveys and interviews, and/or
  2. identifiable private information in a form associable with that individual.

If you are a member of the Smith College community and intend to conduct research that involves human participants, either on campus or elsewhere, you must have your research plans reviewed and approved by the IRB prior to the initiation of your project. Researchers who are not affiliated with Smith who intend to conduct research involving members of the Smith Community as participants are also required to secure Smith College IRB approval prior to beginning their research.


If you wish to conduct a research study at Smith College that has been approved by another institution (primary IRB), you must also receive approval from the Smith College IRB. The review performed by the primary IRB must meet the human subject protection requirements of the Smith College IRB. Approval by the primary IRB does not guarantee approval by the Smith IRB. Please see the Application Process page for instructions.

If you are a member of School of Social Work (SSW), please see the SSW website before writing your proposal.

If your research involves oral histories, you too must apply. The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP, in the United States Department of Health & Human Services) exempts oral histories from IRB review, but Smith College does not.

If you are a professor who often conducts classroom related research, here are some suggestions for an expedient IRB review:

  1. Identify whether your research will be repeated. If this is the case, please submit a generic IRB Research Proposal Form, along with specific Change of Protocol forms for each research project.
  2. Submit related research in groups. If you have several students conducting various parts of one larger research project, submit all these parts as one group.
  3. Please note that when minors, prisoners, or any vulnerable population participates in your research, your proposal will be reviewed by the full IRB. Full board meetings occur once per month. The schedule can be found on this web site.
  4. All researchers, including faculty and students, are now required to take an on-line training course. This is described in part 2 of 'The Application Process' on this web site. Therefore, we suggest that you make this training an assignment at the beginning of the semester.

Note: All student research, including research conducted in connection with coursework, requires the supervision and signature of a Faculty Adviser prior to submission. The Faculty Adviser's signature on the Research Proposal confirms that they have supervised the composition of the proposal and they approve of the research proposal as submitted. With their signature, faculty acknowledge that they are supervising the project and are responsible for its overall conduct as represented in the proposal to the IRB.

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