Institutional Review Board (IRB) 

Wesleyan's IRB incorporates both the Human Subjects and Animal Care & Use review for the institution. 

IRB Committee Chair:

Dr. Holly Cole

Assistant Professor of Psychology



Human Subjects - Does Your Project Need IRB Review?


The following data collection activities are not generally considered to be human subjects research and do not need IRB review:

  • Data that are being collected for the purpose of internal college programs, such as surveys to help plan or assess programs, feedback gathered to improve college services, etc. 
  • Quality improvement projects within the institution.
  • Course-related activities in which you are gathering data solely for its use within your course. 
  • Biographical research about an individual's life, including oral histories. 
  • Projects involving publicly available data, such as census records. 

There are some cases in which the data gathered could cross over the line into human subjects research; this happens when the researcher begins to move into generalizable knowledge based on the findings. It is not necessary for you to submit paperwork regarding these activities; however, if you are unsure about whether the data you are gathering counts as human subjects research, you are encouraged to email the committee for clarification. You should always plan to use best practices for data collection relevant to the area of study you are working under. 


The HHS Office for Human Research Protections recognizes research as exempt if it poses less than minimal risk to subjects. Projects must fit at least one of the eight categories described at the HHS Office for Human Research Protections page. A majority of the human subjects research conducted at Wesleyan College, especially student research, falls under this category. The determination of "exempt" does need to be confirmed by the IRB; applications for exempt research are considered as they are submitted and only need the approval of the IRB chair (or an alternate member if the project is proposed or supervised by the chair). Projects submitted as exempt that do not meet the requirements for approval will automatically move on to a more advanced level of review, with the PI being notified of any concerns.  

The primary investigator (and faculty sponsor, if the PI is a student) will be responsible for properly understanding guidance on this matter. Projects involving research with prisoners are not eligible for exemption; Wesleyan also requires projects from outside researchers to be reviewed at the Expedited or Full Review level, regardless of their content. Note that projects involving deception may only be approved as exempt if the subject is informed in advance that they may be misled regarding the nature or purposes of the research.  

Expedited Research

Research can be considered Expedited if it poses no more than minimal risk to subjects. Further guidance on what is considered expedited can be found at the HHS site. Briefly, research in this category tends to involve more identifiable data, such as the collection of sweat, blood samples, ultrasound data, etc. This identifiable data also extends to the video or audio recording of participants if they are being used for generalizable research purposes. 

Applications for expedited research are considered as they are submitted and only need the approval of the IRB chair (or and alternate member if the project is proposed or supervised by the chair) and one additional committee member. 

Research Needing Full Review

Projects involving more than minimal risk to subjects require full committee review. Projects that involve children, individuals who are imprisoned, and individuals who have impaired decision-making capacity fall under this category. So do projects that ask about things that are highly sensitive, could cause emotional harm, or involve illegal activities. Applications for full review are considered on a monthly basis during a meeting of the full committee. 

Animal Care & Use - Does Your Project Need IACUC Review?

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee periodically reviews programs and facilities to ensure proper procedures are being followed according to guidance set out by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). Although the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) provides for protection of a smaller set of warm-blooded vertebrate animals, the NIH supported Public Health Service (PHS) Policy of Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals extends the protective coverage to all research with live vertebrate animals

Field Studies that are fully observational in nature, do not require the capture or transport of animals, and are not likely to results in a permanent disruption in the animal's environment are exempt from IACUC review. There is no form that needs to be completed in this case although a researcher may seek confirmation from the committee if that is required by an outside/funding agency. 

The IACUC reviews applications in two ways: Full Committee or Designated Member review. The same form is used for both. All members of the committee are provided with a set amount of time to review the protocols. At the end of that time frame, if no one has called for Full Committee review, then a member designated by the chair will review the protocol and either approve or require modifications that must be completed in order for approval to take place. This committee member cannot deny the application, but instead they can request that it move on to Full Committee review. Full Committee review requires a simple majority of members to be present and voting; the majority of that group votes to either approve, require modifications, or deny the application. 

Application Submission Procedure

Applications should be submitted as attached files to Questions regarding applications (current or forthcoming) can be sent to Dr. Cole at this same address. 

Human subjects applications that meet the exempt or expedited standards will be reviewed as submitted. Animal care and use applications will be sent out to members once received to determine whether designated member review is appropriate. Plan on at least two weeks from the date of those submissions for turnaround time. 

Applications for the 2023-2024 academic year that need to go to full committee (including all external applications) should be submitted by the following dates in order to be reviewed in a timely manner: Aug 23rd, Sept 27th, Oct 25th, Nov 29th, Jan 24th, Feb 21st, Mar 28th, and Apr 25th. Note that these are not the dates for the meetings themselves, but priority dates for full committee application submissions. 


Application Forms

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the procedure if I want to pass on a research opportunity from someone at another institution? 

It's common in many research areas for online studies to be passed along via email or social media to widen the participant pool. As long as you are not personally in charge of collecting data for that study, it does not need to be reviewed by our IRB. This means you're free to pass along a link or direct potential subjects to a website for that study without submitting an application to us. Our only requirement is that you confirm that the project has approval from the IRB for the institution from which it is originating. 

Can I require that my students participate in research? 

As research participation must be voluntary and without undue coercion you cannot require that students participate in a research study without providing some alternative. You can, however, offer the research participation as an option that students may select from among several different activities related to understanding research; these need to be equivalent in terms of time commitment and level of involvement. You may also advertise research studies to students without any requirement; these would not need a provided alternative. 

Can I offer incentives for research participation? 

The Wesleyan College IRB allows for the use of small incentives for research participation. Examples include small amounts of extra credit in a course, a small financial payment accounting for the time spent, or entry into a drawing for a gift card. Following the guidelines noted above, if you offer extra credit for participation you must also provide an equivalent non-study alternative for students in your class. Researchers who are using paid participants (MTurk, SurveyMonkey Audience, Prolific, etc.) are strongly encouraged to offer compensation at or above the level of hourly minimum wage.