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Getting Started

Blinn College encourages and supports the scholarly endeavors of its students, faculty and staff. Scholarly work and research often involves the use of human participants. All research involving human participants conducted at or sponsored by Blinn College, whether funded or unfunded and whether conducted by Blinn College faculty or others, must comply with policies for the protection of human participants and must be submitted for review to the Institutional Review Board. Researchers may not solicit participant participation or begin data collection until they have obtained clearance from the IRB.

Blinn College and federal policies require that projects involving human participants be reviewed in order to consider:

  • The rights and welfare of the participants involved.
  • The appropriateness of methods used to secure informed consent.
  • The balance of risks and potential benefits of the investigation.

NOTE: It is expected that all research investigators will read all material on the IRB Web site and fully complete the application for IRB approval. The IRB will provide research investigators with more information regarding the protection of human participants upon request. It is NOT the goal or the responsibility of the IRB to comment on the quality of the research design or of the proposed research.

NOTE TO OUTSIDE RESEARCHERS NOT AFFILIATED WITH BLINN COLLEGE: Outside researchers not affiliated with Blinn College, but conducting studies targeting Blinn College faculty, students, or staff, must find a collaborator at Blinn College such as a Co-Principal Investigator. The Co-Principal Investigator will be responsible for providing the IRB with all the necessary documents such as a completed IRB Application form (from Blinn College), appropriate Informed Consent form, recruitment flyer or ads, instruments or measures to be used, CV of the Co-Principal Investigator, letter of IRB approval from the collaborating institution, a completed Notice of Intent to Conduct Researchapproved by the appropriate Vice President and any other supporting documentation.

Submitting a Proposal
Please see Frequently Asked Questions to get a general overview of the IRB responsibilities and general definitions.
Once you have determined that you are conducting human participant research, please follow the steps below to complete the review process. Please allow one full month from the time you submit your completed application, with all necessary attachments, for the review process to take place.

Step 1
All researchers must show proof of having taken a training course on research with human participants. You may take the online course found at the National Institute of Health website, or you may provide verification of having taken a similar course. If your research is being sponsored by or is connected with another institution which also requires you to obtain an IRB approval from them, please include a copy of that approval letter with your application to the Blinn College IRB, or some indication that your organization is aware of your research.

Step 2
If you plan to collect student data from the Blinn College Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Enrollment Management (IEEM), be aware that it can only be released according to regulations set forth by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It is the responsibility of the researcher to work with IEEM to assure that the data will be available to you once you obtain IRB approval. IRB approval does not guarantee IEEM will release data to you. You can find the Blinn College policies related to FERPA here.

Step 3
Fill out the IRB Research Application Form, save the document by the name of your project, and submit the form as an attachment via e-mail to Also submit the required forms and additional documentation as listed on the application form as attachments. (Be sure to save a copy for yourself.)

Step 4
Once the proposal is submitted, the committee will review it and make a determination as to the status of the proposal. The proposal will fall into one of four review categories:

Some proposals fall into one of the Exempt categories as provided in federal regulations and as determined by the IRB. These proposals meet particular regulation and minimal risk requirements and may be eligible for a streamlined review by the IRB Chair or the IRB Administrator. Exempt proposals are not exempt from review but exempt from a full committee vote, and possibly exempt from any continuing review based on length of the study. Only the IRB can determine Exempt status. Exempt reviews are normally faster than the full committee review and do not require a vote. The results will be communicated to the investigator in writing and also reported at the next IRB meeting. IRB members may ask for discussion of any expedited reviews, or the referral to a full committee review.

The following types of research generally fall into the Exempt review category:

  • Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices.
  • Research involving the use of educational tests, interviews, surveys, or observation, unless information is identifiable and disclosure would place participants at risk. (Survey and interview research with children is never exempt.)
  • Research involving the collection or study of existing data if the sources are publicly available or the information is recorded in a way in which the participants cannot be identified.
  • Research and demonstration programs designed to study, evaluate or examine federal public benefit or service programs.

An expedited review consists of a review by the IRB Chair and one or more committee members. Expedited reviews are for proposals that meet minimal risk standards as determined by the regulations and the Chair. Expedited reviews are normally faster than the full committee review and do not require a vote. The results will be communicated to the investigator in writing and also reported at the next IRB meeting. IRB members may ask for discussion of any expedited reviews, or the referral to a full committee review.

Full Review
Proposals that involve more than minimal risk must go through a full IRB review. Proposals that do not meet exempt review criteria, or proposals that the IRB Chair cannot Expedite because they require further discussion, are sent to the entire IRB Committee for Full Review. The researcher may be invited to an IRB Committee meeting to discuss the application.

Step 5
Once the category is determined, the IRB Committee or designees will review the Research Application Form and recommend one of the following:

  • Approval: Proposal satisfies regulations and IRB requirements and research may commence.
  • Conditional Approval: Approval will be given once specific recommendations from the IRB are met. Recommendations will be given to the investigator in writing, and no research may begin until a revised Research Application Form has been submitted and the revisions have been evaluated.
  • Tabled: Not enough information provided on the Research Application to make an informed decision, additional discussion is required, or a majority of voting members could not be obtained.
  • Not Approved: Research proposal does not meet federal regulation or institutional requirements. Reasons for non-approval will be given to the investigator in writing.

Step 6
Once the committee has reviewed the Research Application Form, the Principal Investigator will be informed in writing, typically via e-mail, of the status and recommendation. If approved, research may begin immediately upon receipt of the official correspondence.

Please note that approval by the IRB does not constitute approval of the Office of Institutional Research and Enrollment Management (IEEM) to release student records.

The Blinn College IRB requests that you share the results of this research project with the IRB office when you have completed it. The data from your study could be very useful to grant writers and to others in the Blinn College system. You will be given complete credit for its authorship.