Frequently Asked Questions

Review Board (IRB/IACUC)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Review Board (IRB/IACUC)

Who makes up the Buena Vista University Review Board?

The Buena Vista University Institutional Review Board/Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IRB/IACUC) is appointed by the Vice President of Academic Affairs (VPAA). The Board consists of at least five members. Those five members include at least 4 faculty (one of whom must be in science, one of whom must be a different gender) and at least one community member unaffiliated with BVU. The Board may consult with expert reviewers such as a medical doctor for IRB protocols and a veterinarian for IACUC protocols.

Current members include: Dr. Stephanie Hays (IRB/IACUC Chair, Criminology) Dr. Thom Bonagura (Biology), Dr. Melinda Coogan (Biology), Professor Mary Mello-Nee (Art), and Mr. Lee Dutfield (Storm Lake Community Member; Examiner and Casualty Claims with Century-National Insurance Company). Current expert reviewers include: Dr. Dianne Johnson (DVM, Lake Animal Hospital) and Dr. Joan Nilles (MD, Storm Lake Family Health Center). Board members are expected to serve two-year terms. Meetings are held monthly, or as needed.

How soon should I submit my IRB/IACUC application?

Student and faculty researchers should plan ahead, and submit your completed application as soon as you have all of the specifics for the research established. This includes:

  • The overall goals of your research
  • Completion of the OHSP health surveillance questionnaire (if relevant)
  • Your completed survey; list of interview questions; or specifics of your observations (if observational research)
  • A consideration of potential impacts (both harmful and beneficial) to all participants and others potentially impacted by your research.
  • A sample Letter of Informed Consent and Signature Page (if applicable)
  • Evidence of ethics training specific to Human Subject or Vertebrate Animal projects.

Please allow a minimum of two weeks for Review Board’s decision for exempt or expedited proposals. Full board reviews may take up to 30 days. In some cases, you may receive word from the Chair sooner, but be sure to allow adequate time prior to the date you would like to initiate your data collection. If your topic area is especially sensitive or personal, the Review Board may need a longer time frame to review your proposal. Some proposals may require several revisions before approval is granted.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions about my project?

If you are a student researcher, the first point of contact for additional questions on your research will be your faculty advisor. If you still have questions at this point, contact the Review Board directly through the Review Board Chair.

Research Subject to Review

Research projects subject to Review Board review:

The Review Board reviews all research that involves human subjects or vertebrate animals.

  • In general, any research that involves animal handling and direct communication with human subjects including, but not limited to, interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and in some cases observations requires review.
  • Research that involves the use of sensitive records that are not available to the general public, and that might be seen by persons not intended, also requires review. Exposure of sensitive information during the research and analysis phase must be considered, as well as release in published reports.
  • All research involving vulnerable populations, such as minors (all individuals under 18 years of age), elderly persons, persons under medical care, pregnant women, and prisoners must be submitted for review.
  • Research involving the possibility of inflicting physical discomfort, confusion or embarrassment must be submitted for review. (A common example is the use of deception which is a necessity in certain research.)
  • In addition, if there is intent to publish or otherwise make known the results, the project should be submitted for review.
  • If you are unsure about whether or not your project is subject to review, please check with the Review Board to help you determine whether your research involves human subjects or vertebrate animals, as defined by the institution and federal regulations.
  • Please Note: do not initiate any study or research procedures until receiving notification of exemption or approval from the Review Board.
  • See below for information on specific types of review.

Research that is NOT subject to IRB/IACUC review:

  • Studies that do not involve human subjects, vertebrate animals, or the analysis of data or records that contain sensitive, personal, or classified information. (A common example would be an analysis of newspaper articles or magazine advertisements.)
  • Certain types of human subjects or vertebrate animal research that involves only minimal risk* may be exempt from review, but the IRB/IACUC must make the final determination regarding exemption from review.

*Minimal risk is defined in the federal regulations as situations wherein the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.

  • See below for information on specific types of IRB/IACUC review.
  • Contact the Review Board for further information regarding studies that may be exempt from review.

Categories of IRB/IACUC review

Exempt review

An Exempt Review is permissible if your project involves minimal contact with human subjects or vertebrate animals, such as:

  • Non-interactive observations.
  • Research on records that are public information.
  • Research that entails routine assessment by and for academic departments or programs.

Exempt protocols are reviewed by the Chair or Chair Designee. Average timeframe for a decision is approximately 1 week after submission to the Review Board.

Expedited review

An Expedited Review is permissible if your project involves more direct contact with human subjects and vertebrate animals such as:

  • Focused interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Oral histories
  • Surveys
  • Interactive observations
  • Minimal animal contact in natural habitats

For Expedited Reviews, the Chair or Chair Designee reviews each component of the research, but the application does not require review by the full Review Board. Average timeframe for a decision is approximately 2 weeks after submission to the Review Board.

Full review

A Full Review is required if your project involves more direct contact with human subjects and vertebrate animals, such as:

  • Research involving any vulnerable population [children or adolescents under18 years of age, pregnant women, prison inmates, or other vulnerable populations]
  • Specific experimental treatments.
  • Research utilizing records that are not publicly available.
  • Research that involves the collection of sensitive or personal information.
  • Research that involves any form of deception with regard to research subject
  • Research that involves the maintenance of live animal subjects in a laboratory setting.

For full reviews, the Review Board looks over each component of the study design, and may provide feedback or recommendations for revisions in some areas. Average timeframe for a decision is approximately one month after submission to the Review Board.