Institutional Review Board FAQ

This section contains information regarding the questions we are asked most frequently. Researchers who have a question that is not answered here may contact the IRB at  

What is the Institutional Review Board?

The PennWest California Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a standing committee, constituted according to federal regulations, that is responsible for ensuring that the rights and welfare of human research participants are protected. The IRB is an independent board, not under any direct supervision or direction of PennWest California administration. The IRB has the authority to approve, to require modification as a condition of approval, and to disapprove proposed activities that are within the scope of its authority. In addition, the IRB has the authority to verify that ongoing research studies involving human participants comply with regulations and may suspend or terminate approval for ongoing studies under its jurisdiction. Furthermore, the IRB has the authority to determine whether or not any activity is covered by these policies and procedures and whether it requires review by the IRB.

The primary goal of the IRB is the protection of research participants. The IRB does not endorse the quality of the research and approval does not absolve researchers from the responsibility to monitor and maintain the project within their professional guidelines. The ultimate responsibility for the ethical conduct of research remains with the researchers.

No research involving human subjects may be undertaken at PennWest California without prior review by the IRB. Failure to observe the policies and procedures described herein will be considered serious misconduct, subject to sanctions including possible recommendations for termination of faculty appointment, student enrollment or other affiliation with PennWest California.

Who should apply for IRB review?

  • All members of the PennWest California community (faculty, staff, students) who engage in activities that are classified as research involving human participants must submit their research proposals for review and approval.
  • Any organization conducting research in which members of the PennWest California community are research subjects must have their research project approved by the IRB.

How do I apply for IRB review?

Instructions are available on the Application Process and Checklists page.

When should I submit my application for review?
All research proposals should be submitted to and approved by the IRB before any data are collected. The IRB will not approve any project after the fact.

What does the IRB look at?
The IRB will review the proposed research protocol to ensure that rights and welfare of human participants are protected. The IRB will not assess the appropriateness of the research design or statistical analyses unless the research has the possibility of substantial risk to the participants and has been evaluated in a full board review.

How do I contact the IRB?

Campus mail: Box 109