Project Planning: Institutional Review and Approval

The University of Minnesota is dedicated to conducting research with integrity. As a result, all research projects must adhere to strict ethical standards of the University, in addition to regulations and procedures administered by local, state, and Federal governments. The Institutional Research Board and the Human Research Protection Program work together to review all research projects to ensure they meet every standard.

  • Institutional Research Board (IRB): assesses the risks and benefits of a research study before it begins in order to protect the project’s subjects. If the benefit outweighs the risk involved, the IRB initializes a consent process to ensure subjects are fully aware of the project’s risks and benefits.
  • Human Research Protection Program (HRPP): processes IRB applications to review proposed research projects and related issues. They also assist independent research review committees and executive committees from other panels.

Below is an overview of the full-committee review process all research projects must undergo.

  1. You must submit an application form to the IRB along with your consent forms and other required appendices/materials.
  2. The staff at the HRPP will pre-review your application to make sure all of the necessary materials are available for the IRB review.
  3. Once all of the materials necessary for an IRB review have been collected, your study will be assigned an IRB number, a committee number that will review your study, and the date your study will be reviewed.
  4. Two weeks after the application deadline, the IRB will convene and make a decision about your application.
  5. Seven to ten days after the meeting you will receive a letter from the HRPP detailing the outcome of the IRB meeting in regards to your research.

It is important to note that not all research projects need clearance from the Institutional Research Board. Examples of projects that do NOT need IRB review include:

  • Searches of existing literature.
  • Quality assurance activities or evaluation projects designed for self-improvement or program evaluation. These projects are not meant to contribute to “generalizable” knowledge.
  • Interviews of individuals where questions focus on things, not people. For example, questions about policies.

Examples of projects that DO require IRB review include:

  • Research involving human subjects
  • Using records gathered on human subjects
  • Involving human tissue

Contact HRPP for more information if you:

  • Are uncertain whether or not to apply to IRB
  • Need more information about the full-committee and expedited review processes
  • Want clearance from the application process