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Purpose of the IRB

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a committee that reviews all research involving human subjects conducted at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW). The aim of IRB review is to assure that research is conducted in an ethical manner. This includes but is not limited to ensuring that risks to subjects are minimized, selection of subjects is equitable, subjects are informed fully of what their participation will involve, and there is no coercion limiting potential subjects’ right to refuse consent. The ethicality of a research study cannot merely be assumed by the intentions of the researcher or the design of the research.

GSW’s IRB policies are determined by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Human Research Protections. The entire code of federal regulations can be found online; this website contains a condensed version of these regulations and some information specific to this institution. It should be noted that these federal regulations are periodically updated; prospective researchers are strongly encouraged to review both the federal regulations and the information on this website for relevant policy changes prior to submitting applications.

For the purposes of this committee, the following definitions (45 CFP 46, § 46.102) are relevant:

  • Research is defined as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge”. Not all projects that collect information from humans constitute research under this definition; for a listing of the types of projects that may not meet this definition of “research”, see the section titled “Projects Not Requiring IRB Review”.
  • Human subjects are defined as “living individual[s] about whom an investigator…conducting research obtains (1) Data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) Identifiable private information”. For our purposes, human subjects are considered to include not only living persons, but also information obtained through analysis of human tissue, blood samples, pathology or diagnostic specimens, and medical or other records, including archival and pre-existing data and records of deceased persons.

It is GSW policy that no research involving human subjects may be undertaken until approval has been granted by the IRB. This includes research conducted by GSW faculty, staff, and students as well as any research involving members of the GSW community as subjects, whether or not the researchers are affiliated with GSW.

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