The submission and review processes

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What happens to my application once it is submitted to the IRB?

After the IRB office receives your application, it is initially screened to determine if there are
any documents or forms missing.

If all materials are in the submission packet, then the protocol is assigned for review by the IRB Administrator. Each reviewer has 7 working days in which to complete the review or to inform the IRB Administrator that the reviewer cannot complete the assignment in a timely fashion.

During this process, the reviewer evaluates the application and all accompanying materials to assess the risks and benefits in the proposal. After this is complete, the reviewer determines the level of risk and assigns the application to either 1) exempt 2) expedited-minimal risk or 3) full board-more than minimal risk.

If the protocol is considered exempt or to pose minimal risk, the application is handled by the IRB Administrator in conjunction with the reviewer to determine the steps needed for final approval.

If the protocol is considered to pose more than minimal risk, the application is assigned to the full board for review. At that time, the Board will review the application and supporting materials to determine if the risks are sufficiently mitigated to allow the study to proceed. The IRB Administrator and the members of the Board will determine the steps needed for final approval.

After all steps are met satisfactorily, the IRB Administrator will draft a letter of approval of the project and stamp all relevant materials with an appropriate approval date. The letter will contain information regarding the type of review and the beginning and ending date of the approval. If there are special circumstances that must be abided by, the letter will contain that information (e.g., the procedure may only be used on 2 participants and a report provided to the IRB Chair).

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What happens if there are problems with my application?

If at any point problems with the application are noted, the IRB Administrator or a member of the Board will contact you to help resolve the problems.

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Are all applications reviewed the same way?

Yes and no.

Yes, in that initially all applications are screened for completeness.

No, in that the type of review that is used is determined by the IRB. The determination depends in part on the amount of perceived risk to the participants. There are three categories of review (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.html):

  1. Exempt - To qualify as an exempt study, the research must fall within one of the specific governmental categories AND satisfy the other regulatory and MSU institutional exceptions. The MSU IRB will make the exemption determination, not the principal investigator. Any study that the MSU IRB believes is not exempt must undergo either expedited or full review.
  2. Expedited - If the research activities (1) present no more than minimal risk to human subjects and (2) involve only procedures listed in one or more of the government categories, then the research may be reviewed by the IRB through the expedited review procedure authorized by 45 CFR 46.110 and 21 CFR 56.110.
  3. Full - Research activities that involve more than minimal risk must be reviewed at a convened IRB meeting.

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How long does the process take?

The IRB has set goals for turnaround time from the time of receipt of the application to the time of approval. The time it takes for a complete review, regardless of type of review, depends in part on completeness of the application, the time spent by the investigator in responding to the concerns of the IRB, and the need for additional review.

  • Exempt - Goal: Two to Three weeks
  • Expedited - Goal: Four to Six weeks
  • Full - Goal: Six to Eight weeks

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When can I begin my research project?

You can begin your study only after you have received your signed approval letter and your stamped documents that you will use in the course of your study.

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For how long is my approval valid?

Approval is generally valid for one year; however, this is not a guarantee. The length of approval is determined by the IRB and depends in part of the amount of risk perceived to be in the study. Length of approval can be time-limited, or it may be limited to a prescribed number of procedures. The letter of approval will indicate the length of the approval period.

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