Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The Davidson College Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews and approves all research involving the use of human subjects. Research can begin after the IRB approves the project (non-exempt) or exempts it from further review. The review of a protocol application typically takes two weeks. The IRB will not approve human subjects’ research retroactively, after data has already been collected.

Please use these links to correctly categorize your project:

Next, visit our HSIRB Application information page.

Projects That Do Not Require IRB Review

Categories of Research Excluded from Review by the Common Rule

The Common Rule specifically excludes certain types of investigations from the definition of “research,” including oral history, journalism, biography, literary criticism, legal research, and historical scholarship that focuses directly on the specific individuals about whom the information is collected.

Class Projects Limited to In-Class Discussion Only

If you will be assigning a project involving human subjects, the results and analysis of which will only be limited to in-class discussion, the HSIRB does not need to be involved.  If you plan to (or it is likely that) your students will publish or present the data publicly, the project must be approved by the HSIRB in advance of any data collection. 

Most class projects with human subjects will require a blanket protocol since students often go on to use the data outside of the class in which the project was assigned. Visit the Blanket Protocols for Class Projects section on the HSIRB application page for details.

Additional Resources

Documents and Forms for all IRB forms and templates.

For questions regarding the Submittable application platform, email

For questions regarding human subjects research policy and protocol, email our Vice-Chair at, and carbon-copy (CC)