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Institutional Effectiveness

IRB - Introduction and Overview

Introduction to Virginia Western’s IRB

Virginia Western encourages and supports the scholarly efforts of its faculty and students, as well as other researchers as resources permit.

Scholarly work often involves the use of human subjects for data collection and analysis. The Virginia Western Institutional Review Board (IRB) helps ensure that:

  • the rights and welfare of human subjects are protected; risks have been considered or minimized;
  • the potential for benefit has been identified and maximized;
  • all human subjects only volunteer to participate in research after being provided with legally effective informed consent; and
  • any research is conducted in an ethical manner and in compliance with established standards, including handling all private information with confidentiality.

Virginia Western’s IRB is authorized to approve, review, require modifications in, or disapprove human subjects research activities conducted by or through the College. The IRB will evaluate each project’s compliance with ethical standards in regard to issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, and any risk to the participants.

The primary purpose of the IRB is to protect the welfare of human subjects used in research. However, Virginia Western reserves the right to deny or request a delayed implementation for research requests that would require institutional resources that are not available at a given point in time.

IRB Overview

> What's an IRB?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is charged with ensuring that ALL research done at or by Virginia Western conforms to standards set to protect human subjects.

> What constitutes research with human subjects?
  • Using humans (students too) to answer questions posed.
  • That includes some surveys used by faculty/staff in the classroom.
  • This includes surveys done by students or external groups outside the classroom.
  • Obvious to many, this includes experimentation done using students, and others.
> What internal research requests need IRB approval?

Any human subjects research that you even think you might want to publish or present outside Virginia Western should be submitted for IRB approval.


When in doubt, check with the IRB first!

> What internal research is exempt from IRB approval?

Internal data analysis is exempt from need for IRB review if:

It is undertaken by Virginia Western faculty and staff exclusively for Virginia Western needs assessment, program planning, or program evaluation.

> What external research requests need IRB approval?
  • Any request that involves Virginia Western resources (data, access to students/faculty/staff, meeting space, Bulletin notices, email notices, etc.) should be referred to Virginia Western’s IRB
  • Any study that requests that participants be a student or employee of Virginia Western must have prior approval from Virginia Western’s IRB
> What external research is exempt from IRB approval?

External surveys often do not require approval from Virginia Western’s IRB if they:

  • Are advertised only through a public bulletin board notice AND
  • Do not require participants to be Virginia Western students or employees.

When in doubt, check with the IRB first!

> What to do if you are doing research?
  • Contact the IRB to apply for clearance to conduct your research
  • Obtain an application form
  • Complete the brief form
  • Return the form to the IRB
  • WAIT for clearance (most clearance is given quickly)
> How do you contact the IRB?
  • Visit Virginia Western’s IRB webpage
  • Contact Virginia Western’s IRB at
  • Contact IRB Chair: Carol Rowlett at

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Location: Fishburn Hall F110

3093 Colonial Ave., SW
Roanoke, VA 24015

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