Students conducting research

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Does my student research project require IRB approval?


Yes! If your project involves research with human participants, you are required to obtain IRB approval. The exception is if the student’s research is only for a classroom project and will not be presented, shared, or published outside the classroom.

Any student considering presenting human subject research at the University Student Research Symposium will need IRB approval prior to the start of their research project.

Moreover, all human subject research projects intended as thesis projects must submit an application to the IRB. Copies of the IRB approval for thesis projects will be sent to the Graduate School to be included in the student’s record.

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Can I conduct a student research project and get IRB approval in one semester (Fall/Spring)?


It is possible to submit to the IRB, obtain approval, and begin your research study in one semester. However, the IRB strongly encourages you, if possible, to submit your IRB application prior to the semester start.  This will increase the likelihood that you will have time for data collection, analysis, and reporting. If you plan to submit during the semester, you should submit a complete application within 15-21 days from the start of the Fall or Spring semester. The IRB cannot guarantee that a research study planned for one semester will be reviewed with enough time for you to do all your data collection and analysis.


There are other factors that may be inherent in your application or research design that may impact the length for review.  Those include missing documents, lack of clarity in your application, and the level of risk involved your research. During the review process you will be asked to make revisions or clarify items. If you do not respond to these requests within 1-2 business days the timeline will likely be extended. Your research will likely fall into one of the following categories:
•    Expedited – Goal for review: Four to Six weeks
•    Full – Goal for review : Six to Eight weeks (please see submission deadlines)

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Since I am trying to do my research in one semester, can you rush or expedite my IRB review?


All IRB submissions are given the same level of priority. They are processed and assigned as they are received. Unfortunately, giving your application priority over another student or faculty member may then impact their timeline or their ability to start a federal grant research project.

You are welcome to let us know your plans for the timeline of your research study, and you may check in with the office regularly to obtain the status of your application/review.

Since the IRB office mails stamped approval documents to the student’s home, you may ask the office to pick the approval letter and documents to avoid the length of time it takes for mail delivery to your home.

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What is a faculty sponsor? And who can be a student’s faculty sponsor?


Every student submitting to the MSU IRB must identify a faculty sponsor. The faculty sponsor should be providing oversight and training during the entire timeline of the research activity from planning, to IRB submission, to data collection and analysis. Applications should not be submitted to the IRB unless they have been carefully reviewed by the Faculty Sponsor. Faculty sponsors will be copied on correspondence regarding the IRB submission.


A faculty sponsor must be a permanent faculty member. Non-permanent faculty, adjunct faculty and faculty from other universities cannot serve as a faculty sponsor.

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What happens after I have finished my project and data analysis?


At the conclusion of your project and when all data analysis is completed, students are asked to submit a Project Completion Form.

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I am a faculty member considering requiring IRB submission as part of my class assignments for student projects; do I need to contact the IRB?


If you plan to require IRB submission during your course, please contact the IRB Coordinator prior to the semester to discuss any timelines or expectations. This discussion will provide you with the best practices for submitting to the IRB as part of a classroom assignment.


Faculty members requesting that their entire class submit to the IRB without prior discussion with the IRB office may encounter capacity problems and extended timelines for review. The IRB office can meet with you upon your request to discuss common pitfalls in student submissions.  The IRB office cannot guarantee that all applications will be reviewed in time for completion of the research project in one semester unless you have discussed projects with the IRB office.

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