Ohio Wesleyan University is responsible for ensuring that research activities conducted under its auspices do not violate the rights and welfare of human subjects. All human subject research is subject to review by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) according to the University Policy on Human Subject Research (HSR).
That being said, the University recognizes that most assigned course projects that involve collecting information from or about human subjects are conducted for educational purposes only (e.g., the goal is to provide students with training and experience related to research methods), and therefore do not meet the definition of research according to the HSR policy; research is a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge). Course projects that involve human subjects but do not meet the definition of research are not subject to IRB review if all of the following conditions apply:
- There is no more than minimal risk to the human subjects. Minimal risk means that the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.
- There is no involvement of vulnerable human subjects (e.g., pregnant women, children, prisoners, or cognitively impaired persons).
- The project is not part of a student independent project, honors thesis, or other individual student research experience.
If any of these conditions do apply to the project, it is subject to IRB review. Faculty are encouraged to contact the IRB for assistance in determining whether a course project requires IRB review.
For all course projects that involve human subjects but do not require IRB review, the instructor is encouraged to:
- Design and maintain safeguards that protect the rights and welfare of all human subjects involved in the project and collect data anonymously when possible
- Ensure that students who interact with human subjects or have access to human subject data are adequately trained (e.g., provide educational training related to the core ethical principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice)
- Require students to obtain informed consent from all human subjects and ensure that each subject receives the following information:
- The student researcher is collecting data to fulfill a course requirement (provide the course name and number) and the project is not subject to IRB review
- Participants may contact the IRB, the supervising faculty member, and/or the department/program chair with any questions or concerns about the project (provide contact information for each)
- Only the instructor and/or students enrolled in the course will have access to individual participant data
- Summary results may be presented on campus (e.g., to the students enrolled in the course or to other students and faculty), but will not be further disseminated